MR safety evolves as hospitals grapple with COVID-19 and new regulations

MR safety evolves as hospitals grapple with COVID-19 and new regulations

par Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 14, 2020
MRI Risk Management
From the September 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

As hospitals focus their efforts on caring for COVID-19 patients, MR scans have dropped off. But many facilities are taking advantage of the downtime by using it to perform overdue maintenance.

“MR is not really one of the modalities utilized for COVID treatments, and as a result, they have seen a significant drop-off in patients coming through,” said Joel Kellogg, director of business development for healthcare/IG at ETS-Lindgren. “We’ve seen people taking advantage of this slower period to do some much-needed maintenance on their MR suite like making some minor modifications or upgrades to accommodate changes in equipment.”

Although the majority of MR scans are on pause, some are deemed “medically necessary” and cannot be put off. Because of that, the MR suite, just like many other areas of the hospital, must adhere to personal protection requirements for technologists and the recommendations for cleaning MR equipment after scanning COVID-positive patients.

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Keith Kopp, president of Kopp Development, cautioned that it’s too early to determine the full effects of the pandemic on MR safety, but he has noticed a general desire to reduce physical contact with patients, such as pat downs for ferrous objects.

Kopp's FerrAlert Target Scanner
There is also a big push right now to have as little contact as possible between staff members. Kopp is currently working on a product that will allow facilities to monitor MR suites without being onsite by providing retroactive data on how the MR room and ferromagnetic detection systems are being used.

But it’s important to note that hospitals aren’t in the best financial situations at the moment to purchase new equipment.

“Budgets are stressed, and the reality is that most safety equipment is not a billable procedure, so it’s potentially a drain on the bottom line, at least in the short-term,” said Kopp.

He added that hospitals should consider that if a product results in fewer MR incidents, then it will most likely pay for itself in the long-term.

Joseph Barwick, founder of Aegys Group, encourages hospitals to look to the future when considering these financial decisions.

“There will be even greater pressure when COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are brought under control and imaging procedure schedules return to full capacity and beyond to address the backlog,” he explained. “The investment in MR safety tools that reduce or eliminate manual practices and increase efficiency in screening and access control will be a necessity to ensure that as volumes increase there is no corresponding increase in adverse events.”

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