A 32-year-old man died at BYL Nair Municipal Hospital in Mumbai on Saturday night after he was reportedly sucked into a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine while holding a metallic oxygen cylinder in his hand. Three people, including a doctor, have been arrested.
Rajesh Maruti Maru (32) had accompanied his sister’s mother-in-law, Laxmibai Solanki, to the hospital’s MRI section for a test. Around 8.30 pm, he reportedly got trapped with a leaking oxygen cylinder inside the MRI machine.
“Magnetic force of the machine sucked him in. We are not sure how he went so close. An inquiry is on,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, Dean, Nair Hospital. Staffers claimed that the cylinder’s knob broke open when Maru was pulled in, causing it to leak. Maru inhaled an excessive amount of oxygen.
The police registered a case under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code for causing ‘death by negligence’, against hospital staffers. A doctor, Saurabh Lanjekar, ward boy Vitthal Chavan, and a helper, Sunita Surve, who were present with the family inside the MRI room, were named in the FIR and have been arrested. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Maru’s kin.
According to Maru’s family, who are residents of Lalbaug, he was holding the oxygen cylinder for Laxmibai Solanki, who was scheduled to undergo the MRI scan. He was reportedly told not to leave the cylinder outside the MRI room. The family says no guard tried to stop them from entering the MRI room.
The family says later, inside the room, Maru was told to assist the hospital staff in positioning the patient for the MRI machine. “The ward boy asked him to help. They said it was okay. He went close to the machine and instead got pulled along with the oxygen cylinder inside the machine. Instead of taking responsibility, the hospital workers scolded us for Rajesh having gone close to the MRI machine with the cylinder in his hand,” said Maru’s sister Priyanka Solanki, who was also present in the MRI room.
The family claims the ward boy did not even check if the machine was switched on when Maru went close to it.
Staffers said Maru’s hand holding the cylinder got stuck in the MRI machine, and that the ward boy and family members pulled him out. He was reportedly rushed to the emergency ward of the hospital within 10 minutes, but declared brought dead.
A postmortem at J J Hospital indicated that Maru died due to pneumothorax, a condition where excessive air enters the lung pockets. “Excessive quantity of oxygen entered his body from the cylinder, which is also harmful. He seemed to have died instantly because of that. Apart from that there were injury marks on both his hands,” a forensic doctor said.
Maru had no other trauma injuries.
Usually, when a patient is taken for an MRI scan, he or she is told to remove jewellery and other items that can be attracted by magnetic charge. Jignesh Thakker, the general secretary of the Indian Radiological & Imaging Association, said that when switched on, an MRI machine’s magnetic force is very powerful. “We usually have to call in the company technician if anything gets sucked into the MRI machine, the impact is such. It is not easy to pull anything out immediately,” he said.
The incident again highlighted the issue of municipal hospitals routinely asking patients to assist ward staff. “No one gave us instructions. How will we know what to do?” Maru’s shocked sister Priyanka said. Brother-in-law Harish Solanki said the hospital must be held accountable for the death.
While Nair Hospital’s Radiology Department head remained unavailable for comment, Dean Bharmal said, “The hospital staff accompanies the patient in such procedures. Protocol is followed.” The hospital authorities have submitted CCTV footage from outside the diagnostic room to investigators.
Laxmibai Solanki, the patient who was to undergo the MRI scan, remains admitted in the medical intensive care unit of Nair Hospital.
Senior Police Inspector Savalaram Agawane said the hospital employees were detained for questioning on Sunday and arrested by the evening. “Relatives should ideally not be allowed inside the MRI room. The ward boy or doctor should have also told the family not to take the oxygen cylinder close to the machine,” Agawane said.