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Optimal staffing in MRI (MRI specific)


Optimal staffing should occur at all times to ensure a safe environment for patients and MRTs


+ Scheduling MRTs and patients

  • As much as possible, scheduling MRTs to work alone is to be avoided, even if this requires rescheduling patient exams.1
    • The ACR recommends that at least two MRTs are working at all times, except for possible emergency circumstances2


  • Planning a schedule that considers patient needs and potential risks is a key method of enhancing MRT job safety.
    • High-risk patients and tasks are identified and scheduled for times when two or more MRTs are working (e.g., normal working hours)1
    • Contrast exams and patients that require sedation are scheduled for times when another MRT or radiologist is present
    • Even anticipated minimal risk patient exams can quickly result in an emergency situation that may be difficult to handle by a lone MRT

+ Working alone

  • Working alone refers to situations where an MRT is by himself or herself and access to assistance is not readily available.3,4
    • This applies to all employees who may go for a period of time without direct contact with a co-worker3
    • A worker can be considered to be working alone if there is a reasonable expectation that a call for assistance will not or cannot be responded to and the worker’s absence may not be noticed for some time4


  • No jurisdiction in Canada currently prohibits working alone.5
    • Depending on the jurisdiction, MRTs may have the right to refuse work that is reasonably believed to be dangerous to their health or safety
    • Employers must meet regulatory requirements to take preventative measures to avoid risk to employees working alone


  • Because of the nature of an MRI procedure, the unique magnetic environment and the isolation and restricted access required, working alone presents new safety concerns for both the patient and the MRT:
    • Individual MRTs may have difficulty attending to patients in distress
    • It may be difficult for facility staff to come to the aid of MRTs in distress
    • Individual MRTs may have difficulty maintaining the safety of the MRI environment


  • MRTs who are scheduled to work alone should take steps to minimize the safety risks to themselves and the patient:
    • MRTs remain familiar with existing and potential safety hazards in the MRI environment through regular training1


  • MRI facilities establish plans and means of communication for MRTs scheduled to work alone.1
    • When MRTs are scheduled to work alone, the MRT should check in with an identified contact person
    • An emergency plan is established and initiated in the event a lone MRT does not check in with identified contact person at prescribed intervals

+ References

  1. Kanal E, et al. American College of Radiology White Paper on MRI safety. AJR 2007;188:1–27.
  2. Pyke LM. Working Alone in MRI? Policies to reduce Risk when Working Alone in the MRI Environment. Can J Med Rad Technol 2007;38(4):31-36.
  3. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. Hamilton ON: c2007. Health and safety programs-working alone. Available at: Accessed February 21, 2013.
  4. Workers Compensation Board of PEI. Guide to Working Alone Regulations. Available at: Accessed February 21, 2013.




May 8, 2013


Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists
85 Albert St, Suite 1000, Ottawa, ON, K1P 6A4
phone: 613 234-0012 / 800 463-9729
fax: 613 234-1097