Office of Inspector General Assesses VA MRI Facilities

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently performed a specialized audit on several VA Medical Facilities. Specifically, they traveled to 43 VA Medical Centers to examine 50 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offices. The point of the inspection was to assess the facilities’ use of the equipment, to determine if they are following safety and training guidelines, and to ensure they do not perform any procedures without informed consent.

In 2008, an independent group known as the Joint Commission foresaw a rise in MRI-connected injuries over 10 years. MRIs are generally safe procedures. They collect images through use of magnetic fields. Those same magnetic fields are powerful enough to project metallic instruments across rooms, making them dangerous projectiles. There are recommended safety guidelines published by the American College of Radiology (ACR) when using MRIs. The Veterans Health Administration, however, does not mandate every MRI office follow those protocols.

The OIG report detailed improvements the VA needs to make. These included improving employee training, which includes patient screening, obtaining informed consent, handling various physical barriers, and being prepared for emergencies. The VA is already planning on implementing these changes.

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