Recognizing Our MRI Team During MRI Safety Week, July 27 to August 3, 2020

This week, July 27 through August 3, 2020, is MRI Safety Week. Thank you to Dawn Vitarelli, Cooper’s Manager of Cross-Sectional Imaging who, along with our MRI team, shared some amazing facts about MRI technology, as well as the Cooper team responsible for keeping us healthy and safe during the current pandemic:

MRI Basics

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and has three-dimensional imaging. There are a variety of things that can be found through MRI. If a doctor orders an MRI, they could be looking for anything from a ligament tear in a joint, a tear or strain in a muscle or tendon, a tumor, MS plaque in the brain or spinal cord, or herniated discs in the spine, for example.

Prior to getting an MRI, you will be asked a series of questions to make sure you are safe to enter the MRI suite and scan room – this is for your safety. If you answer yes to any of the screening questions the MRI team will investigate the implant and determine if you can proceed with your MRI.

Our MRI Team at Cooper

The 28-person MRI team at Cooper, which includes our out-patient locations, has been working full-time on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of our technologists are Board Certified in magnetic resonance imaging and have strong knowledge regarding implant safety. We also have two Board Certified Magnetic Resonance Safety Officers, a Board Certified Radiation Officer, and a MRI Medical Director.

Providing a safe environment and great patient care for our patients is something we normally do, although this work has shifted somewhat during COVID-19. There are new cleaning procedures to ensure that every patient who enters our MRI units feels confident that they are entering a clean environment. Due to the nature of the magnetic field, typical housekeeping equipment cannot enter our scan rooms, so our technologists now have to become creative with cleaning the inside of the magnets. Some crawl in and clean, while others use a duster.

Our hospital staff and patients’ safety is of the utmost importance and we make sure no one enters our suite without being screened or educated in MRI safety. We are pleased to announce that our new MRI unit has been installed and we’re ready to offer quality imaging to our patients. Our team cannot do this task alone and we’d like to thank everyone who assists in the screening process prior to the patient’s arrival to the MRI Department! Here are a few photos of our team and our scanners.

Keeping Patients Safe

Did you know that an MRI’s magnetic field is 1,000-4,000 times greater than the Earth’s magnetic field? The MRI scanner is always “ON” even if no scanning is being performed.  This means it’s very important that we follow recommended rules to ensure patient and staff safety.

There are four zones in the MRI department:

    • Zone 1- General public
    • Zone 2- Pre-screened patients/visitors
    • Zone 3- MRI control room/restricted access
    • Zone 4- MRI scan room/restricted access

No one may enter Zone 3 or Zone 4 without permission from the MRI technologist. There are also a number of items of equipment that are restricted:

  • Oxygen tanks
  • Wheelchairs/stretchers
  • Monitors/IV pumps
  • Tools/ladders
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Some medically implanted devices
  • Credit cards, cell phones, pagers
  • Scissors, stethoscopes, pens

The MRI technologist will approve all items prior to going in the scan room.

Have you ever wondered why we ask so many questions? It’s for everyone’s safety!

For example:

  • Upon placing an MRI order, pre-screening questions are answered by your provider and MRI scheduler.
  • Then an MRI screening form must also be filled out by you and our nursing staff, and will be reviewed by the MRI technologist before the MRI can be performed.
  • If you have an implanted medical device, you cannot undergo an MRI procedure until the device is cleared by the technologist.

Every day personal and hospital items can be deadly if introduced into the MRI environment carelessly. Patients can have adverse events such as malfunctioning internal devices or burns caused by medicine patches or non-MRI safe clothing such as metallic zippers/buttons, bras with metal clasps, certain underwear, and even popular athleisure wear. Hospital staff are also screened to ensure their safety in the department.

For your safety, please remember to fill out the MRI screening forms thoroughly and honestly, and before entering the MRI department!

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