Have you ever been the MR technologist sitting at the computer, frantically searching for implant device information so you might safely scan a patient–while the minutes tick away and you get farther behind schedule–only to find obscure, confusing MSG map data on the implant….and now you have no idea if you can meet the conditions of the implant or not to safely scan the patient? Do you cancel this exam? Do you even notify your radiologist? How about your manager or director? How many patients a week are you delaying, rescheduling or outright cancelling? What if there were a process available, that, with training, could simplify patient screening? Would you be interested in such knowledge? What information would you need to convince your administration to provide the education and tools? Would you pay for it yourself?

Imaging Leaders– have you ever wondered why your MRI department runs perpetually behind schedule? Are you aware of technologists delaying or cancelling patients due to “surprise” implants or foreign bodies? Have there been MRI related safety events at your facility? Are your patient satisfaction scores in the tank? What about your employee morale? How’s your culture of safety looking? Are your technologists credentialed in MRI? Is your site accredited? Do you have a pending Joint Commission or Department of Health survey? Are you ready? Are your technologists, radiologists and equipment ready? What if there were a method, that, with training, could simplify the screening process in MRI? Would you be interested in your technologists and radiologists having such knowledge?

Radiologists- How many phone call interruptions do you get each day from your MRI technologists? How many are clear, concise and to the point? Are your technologists afraid to ask questions of you to assure patient safety? How engaged are you with your technologists? Are you aware of your responsibility to the patient within Imaging? How comfortable are you with your technologists keeping your patients safe? Have you ever been contacted by one of your MR technologists, frantically searching for implant device information so they might safely scan a patient–while the minutes tick away and you both get farther behind schedule–only to find they are totally confused about the safety conditions on the implant….and you have no idea if the conditions of the implant can be met or not—and you just don’t know if they can safely scan the patient? Do you cancel this exam? Do you leave the decision up to the technologist? How do you think this will affect patient satisfaction? What about the fiscal impact? What about delays in patient care / treatment?

There is a better way.

It begins with trust, education and respect. And it applies across all three roles.

As leaders—and this includes formal and physician leaders—our primary responsibility is to assure our employees have the necessary tools to perform their duties.

As employees, it is our responsibility to use those tools effectively and efficiently.

As radiologists, it is our responsibility to assure our team exercises safe patient care practices and for us to determine that all medical decisions made in Imaging are appropriate.

If your goal is to provide safe, effective, efficient patient care in a respectful, collegial environment, but are not sure how—ask yourself if you are using all the tools at your disposal to meet this goal. Are there education, skills or engagement gaps? How are you assuring the gaps are minimized or eliminated? Are there tools available you have not explored?

One of my leader friends recently shared a story about the British rowing team that ultimately sums up what our focus should be. The British rowing team had not won a gold medal since 1912 and they were hungry for one. In preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the team developed a simple useful strategy that changed the entire focus of the team—and moved them from an average rowing team to winning Olympic gold. They established a one question response to every single decision they made. One. This one question allowed them to gauge every situation, decision, barrier they faced—and not lose focus from achieving their goal.

Do we go to the party the night before training?


Do I eat the doughnuts?


Do we skip training this one day?



What is your focus question for your team to zero in on patient safety?

Patient safety—and staff safety—is being determined by every decision you make. Every Day.

Do you provide all the tools necessary for safe patient care? What about training? It is typically the first casualty of budget cuts—often to the detriment of the budget! Are you utilizing innovative technology for safer patient care? Are you aware of the most recent regulatory requirements and procedures impacting patient safety in Imaging? Are your radiologists, nurses and technologists?

What single question are you basing your decisions on each day?


1 thought on “Optimal MRI Operations

  1. Excellent post — feel like most days, on older, aging equipment we keep asking ourselves “will it make the boat go faster” for most of the day, as we battle claustrophobia, kyphosis, motion-disorders, and other non-implant related schedule-crushers!! Just keep rowing!!!

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