Anyone who has had to be examined with an MRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) can tell you about the interesting noises they make. You lie down on a moving table and it slides you into a tube, which is the main part of the machine. As the machine starts to work, there is a pinging sound going on around the head and body. The MRI works by using a large magnet and computer, and the sound is produced by large metal coils which vibrate while the computer is taking images. The images show how the body moves when strong magnetic pulses are placed on it, and by interpreting the images, doctors can see damage or abnormalities in the body. The MRI machine is able to produce magnetic fields which are up to 60,000 times stronger than the natural magnetic field of our planet.
While using the MRI is safe, there are safety issues related to it. There can be no metal in the room as the machine is in use, because the metal can be drawn to the magnetic force, potentially hitting the patient or harming the very expensive machine. Prior to going into the room with the MRI, patients are asked if they have any metal in their pocket or on their body, such as hair clips or pins. If so, it must be removed. While the staff is trained to ask each person, there is always room for human error.
In a very sad case in New York several years ago, a young boy was in the MRI machine. When it was turned on, an oxygen cylinder that hadn’t been seen by staff was pulled in by the magnetic force, hitting and killing him. Although this was an accident, it is easy to see how someone could easily forget a hair pin or small metal item. However, if the hospital were to install walk through metal detectors to the entrances to rooms with MRIs, they could eliminate the chances of someone getting seriously hurt or killed.
MRIs are so highly technical that the cost of the machines starts at $1 million dollars and goes up to over $2.3 million, depending on the standard. These machines and the people using them should be protected as much as possible. If hospitals want to protect their investment, the cost of a walk through metal detector is less than pennies on the dollar when compared to the cost of the MRI machine. The walk through metal detector will ensure the safety of the machine, and the patients, and help to alleviate the chance of human error. This would also eliminate any potential lawsuits the hospital may face. Walk through metal detectors pay for themselves, especially in a hospital setting.