News | January 29, 2002

ECRI Addresses Safety in the MR Environment

Source: ECRI

PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA—The use of equipment and devices in the magnetic resonance (MR) environment can be hazardous—occasionally, even deadly. This fact was tragically illustrated last July when a young patient at a New York-area hospital was struck and killed by a metal oxygen canister that was pulled into the bore of the MR system where the patient was lying. That accident was an instance of the "projectile effect," which is the most spectacular and publicly recognized hazard of the MR environment. But there are several others.

How can hospitals address these risks? In the December 2001 issue of Health Devices, ECRI discusses the issues and methods involved in increasing the safety of device use in the MR environment. Specifically, we review basic MR technology, outline the hazards presented by various elements of the MR environment, provide ECRI's recommendations for safe use of equipment in this environment, and present a starter list of equipment that is marketed by its suppliers as MR compatible.

The December issue also includes an article examining the use of application service providers (ASPs). Using an ASP provides quick access to software applications without the need for new equipment or staff. But it also raises some uncertainties. In this article, we answer some fundamental ASP questions: What sorts of healthcare applications are available from ASPs? What pricing models are available for ASP services? How do you decide between using an ASP and managing the software in-house? And if you do choose the ASP route, how do you select the company or companies that will meet your needs?

Like all issues of the journal, the December 2001 issue of Health Devices also includes a selection of articles derived from ECRI's international Problem Reporting System. These articles describe medical device hazards investigated by ECRI and include specific recommendations for action to help healthcare facilities minimize risks. This month's reports discuss a patient-controlled analgesic (PCA) infusion pump that could revert to an incorrect prescription, defibrillator paddles whose cable can be accidentally pulled loose, electrochemical burns caused by exposed connections in pulse oximeter sensors, and an infusion pump that cannot calculate very small doses of medication.

The Health Devices journal is a component of the Health Devices System—the premier patient safety and quality resource system for today's healthcare technology. This comprehensive, members-only system includes online access to the Health Devices journal, featuring brand-name comparative evaluations; Health Devices Alerts, which includes ECRI's keyword-searchable hazards and recalls database; and a variety of specialized consultation services. Health Devices, known as the Consumer Reports of the medical world, is the most widely used resource in the world for healthcare technology guidance. Contact ECRI to arrange for a free trial of the members-only Health Devices Web services.

The Health Devices System is brought to you by ECRI, the organization committed to healthcare technology safety. Globally providing independent information and technical assistance to the healthcare community, ECRI ( is a nonprofit, international health services research agency and a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization.

For information on purchasing single or bulk copies of the December 2001 issue of Health Devices or for information on becoming a Health Devices System member, contact ECRI at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1298, USA; telephone +1 (610) 825-6000, ext. 5888; e-mail; or fax +1 (610) 834-1275. ECRI's European office can be contacted at; ECRI's Malaysian office can be contacted at; and ECRI's Middle Eastern office can be contacted at

ECRI, 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1298. Tel: 610-825-6000; Fax: 610-834-1275.