1. Section Editor(s): STOKOWSKI, LAURA A. RN, MS

Article Content

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become indispensable in the care of patients of all ages. Although the overwhelming number of MRI examinations goes off without a hitch, dangers do exist in the MRI suite, so we cannot relax our vigilance. In February of this year, the Joint Commission issued a sentinel event alert, "Preventing accidents and injuries in the MRI suite," to highlight these dangers and provide risk-reduction strategies.1 Hazards associated with MRI examinations include projectile injuries when ferromagnetic objects such as ink pens, keys, or oxygen tanks are pulled into the MRI scanner, dislodged ferromagnetic implants, burns, equipment malfunction during exposure to the powerful MRI magnet, inability to attend to patient support equipment, acoustic injury, adverse reactions to MRI contrast agents, and adverse events related to the use of cryogenics (cooling). A list of ferromagnetic objects is provided in the sentinel event alert.1 Hundreds of injuries and a number of deaths have occurred in MRI-related events. The most frequent (70%) are burns related to heating of wires, leads, cables, and sensors in contact with the patient. Items such as safety pins, hairpins, or drug-delivery patches are easy to overlook when preparing a patient for MRI but can burn the patient when currents are induced by the magnetic fields. Recommended actions to prevent patient burns during MRI are included in the sentinel event alert.1




1. The Joint Commission. Preventing accidents and injuries in the MRI suite. Sentinel Event Alert. Issue 38. Published February 14, 2008. Accessed March 12, 2008. [Context Link]