Survey: MRI centers lack infection control

Infection control has been overlooked at some MRI centers due to various factors, including a lack of education, fear of exposing problems, and financial pressure to increase patient throughput.

Those findings come from a survey of 53 hospitals and 47 outpatient imaging clinics authored by Dr. Peter Rothschild, co-founder and medical director of High Field & Open MRI of Louisville, KY, and president and founder of Patient Comfort Systems and Image Enhancement Systems, both in Hayward, CA.

The pilot study was prompted by recent reports of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) being cultured from within MRI facilities.

The research also found that infection control is hindered by lack of regulation or inspections, especially at outpatient facilities; poor quality of equipment such as torn, frayed, and damaged pads; difficulty cleaning MRI equipment, particularly the bore of the MRI system; and the costs of training and pad replacements that are not in purchasing budgets.

At outpatient imaging centers, the lack infection is more of a concern. The survey findings indicated that infection control was of "secondary importance and often totally left up to the judgment of the operator of the MRI system. Not a single outpatient facility volunteered any infection control procedures that the MRI system operators use between patients, such as washing their hands or sanitizing between patients."

If nothing else, the survey results should act as a "wakeup call for MRI facilities to immediately consider this issue seriously."

Rothschild recommended that sites develop well-thought-through written infection control procedures that are posted and implemented throughout the MRI facility and that are followed with every patient. There also must be clear consequences if procedures are not followed.

Related Reading

FDA warns of sandbags in MRI suites, April 3, 2009

U.S. FDA warns against wearing skin patch during MRI, March 6, 2009

Joint Commission may survey for MRI safety, March 5, 2009

11 steps for preventing MRSA infections in MRI, November 6, 2008

Preventing infection in MRI: Best practices for infection control in and around MRI suites, part III, July 3, 2008

Copyright © 2009

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