If you have a degree in radiology, you will be a specialist who knows how to use all the equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging equipment (MRI), that is necessary to properly diagnose broken bones or medical conditions in a patient. However, a key element in capturing the images you need for a proper diagnosis is to make sure you have a cooperative patient. Here are some tips you can use if you have a patient who is afraid of the procedure.
Solutions to Help Keep a Patient Calm
Most patients are a bit nervous when they are lying down to go through an MRI machine. Therefore, you should have some quick-thinking solutions to keep the patient calm. Some ideas to calm an anxious patient include:
- Explaining exactly how the equipment works
- Helping the patient onto the table and making them comfortable
- Giving the patient some earphones with music to listen to
- Checking on the patient in between images to make sure they're OK
- Keeping the patient informed as to exactly how much longer it's going to take
The Claustrophobic Patient
Unfortunately, in the radiology profession, there are a large number of patients who are highly claustrophobic when they are faced with this procedure. Having to lie on a flat surface and be as still as possible, often while holding one's breath in a space that is narrow and dark, can be suffocating.
While the above tips can be applied as well, there are a few other remedies that might help you get the images you need while putting even the most claustrophobic patient at ease. Regardless of whether you are working in a group radiology practice or a hospital, there's usually always an attending physician on hand who could prescribe a mild sedative before the MRI to keep the patient calm. Once they're inside the machine, talk frequently to the patient, ask them about their job, their family (but nothing too personal), or their favorite sports team or television show!
Don't underestimate the power of humor! Patients who are there to have MRI's are usually dealing with pain, injuries or have other symptoms that may indicate the possibility of a serious disease. As a radiologic technologist, it's vital that you try to keep their spirits up as much as possible. While it would be wonderful if your patients were laughing as they were going through the machine, obviously they need to keep as still as possible to have the images develop properly! However, it doesn't hurt to be pleasant, and if they don't like your jokes, at least encourage them to visualize being somewhere else.
Once the procedure is done, it's always good to reassure the patient that they did just fine! And while many patients may ask you if you "saw anything," make sure to tell them that only their doctor will be able to give them the results.