A patient going into a  magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine..
Improving MRI Safety

Due to the extreme risks of using high-powered magnets during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), best practices recommend establishing four safety zones around the MRI scanner, with increasing levels of restriction for personnel and screening for metal objects that could cause harm to patients or staff should they enter a strong magnetic field. Over 18 months at one facility, 37 MRI safety events were reported, 59% of which occurred in Zone IV (the highest level, indicating the room where the magnet is located)—and one of which caused harm to a patient.

In response to this troubling trend, the facility conducted an event review and implemented numerous process changes, including color-coded pocketless scrubs to prevent staff from inadvertently carrying equipment such as phones or scissors into Zone III (the control room) and Zone IV; use of three types of metal detectors; and enhanced multiple screenings and two time-outs with the entire team for metal screenings. Anyone entering Zone III is screened and Zone III undergoes a daily risk evaluation to search for any metal objects. The culture of the MRI department has also shifted to empower staff to manage all aspects of safety in their locations. All these collaborative efforts by Quality and Safety, the MRI Safety committee, MRI staff, and leadership has improved safety for staff, patients, and their families.