The MR safety issues get more and more important with the increasing number of high field MR systems operating at 3.0T, which increases the risk for specific absorption rate (SAR) related heating since the SAR values increase with the square of the field strength which means that the values from 1.5 to 3.0T increase fourfold.
In addition more medical implants are nowadays used in patients, which necessitates a careful screening for their safe use in the MR environment.
In addition to the consideration of safety of patients in the MR environment, the EMF Directive which is now pending for 2012 drives initiatives to develop guidelines for safe working in MRI, develop training materials for this purpose and to define the requirements for professionals who provide MR safety advice. There are developments of safe working guidelines for MRI in the Netherlands, the American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines on MRI safety, defined requirements to practice as an MR Safety Advisor in the UK and the Standards and training requirements for MR Safety Officers in Austria.
The last one is the first course ““Training to be an MR Safety Officer” which was certified by a Standard Institute (Austrian Standards Institute – ÖNORM) after 1.5 years of development and thus is an ÖNORM certified course to become an MR Safety Officer. The official name is ÖNORM S 1125 (“Sicherheitsbeauftragter für Magentresonanzgeräte) and ÖNORM S 1125-2
The first course had to be additionally certified by an external audit.
Formally the basic requirements are 20 learning lessons with 45 minute each and a multiple choice test at the end.
Meanwhile two ÖNORM certified courses were held in Vienna with high interest in Austria and from abroad. A very similar course is planned in Germany.
For the content and organization of such a course to become an MR Safety Officer in general the tasks of the MR operator and the aims of such a course and finally the target groups should be defined.
As an overview the tasks of an MR operator should comprise • Guarantee of a safe operation of all MR scanner in one department including instigation of maintenance of equipment
• Guarantee of patient safety
• Contact person for questions related to implants and the expertise in problem solving strategies
• Guarantee of safety of employees by observing the actual limits of electro magnetic fields
• Evaluation of local safety organization
• Instruction and training of the local medical and technical personal, fire brigade and police in MR safety issue
• Definition of department-related guidelines and documentation of measures in MR safety
Aims of the course and what it should provide to the trainee • The area of responsibilities of an MR safety officer requires deep insights into the complex physical laws of MR interactions and their dangers as well as detailed knowledge of actual laws and norms
• In addition practical abilities such as to save humans from the control area, behaviour in case of fire and magnetic emergency are an important requirement to be able to react adequately if necessary and to transfer this knowledge to others
• Competence and the expertise in clinical strategies how to handle implant safety issues in the MR environment enhance patient safety and improve the MR workflow in daily routine by avoiding unnecessary loss of scanner time and to avoid too much energy and time in organization
The target group can be subdivided into the following three categories
Hospital radiological technologist, physician, anaesthesiology staff, nurse, technical or medical
researcher, maintenance staff and patient supervisor
Scientific institute operator / biotechnician, researcher, maintenance staff
MRI manufacturer applications specialist, researcher, developer, system tester, production staff member
Based on these requirements a specialized course on MR safety within the School of MRI of the ESMRMB is now in preparation and will be held in autumn 2012.