MRI machine death: Staff who accompanied deceased not from radiology department, were untrained

According to radiologists, in case new equipment is installed in a radiology department, the company provides a two-week ‘application specialist’ training to technicians, doctors, and staffers.

Written by ​TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA | Mumbai | Updated: January 30, 2018 2:21:52 am
Staff who accompanied deceased not from radiology department, were untrained Deceased Rajesh Maru’s relatives at his rented one-room residence in Hararwala building in Lalbaug. Tabassum Barnagarwala

At least two hospital employees, accompanying a 32-year-old man who died after being sucked into an MRI machine on Saturday night, were neither part of the hospital’s radiology unit nor trained to conduct MRI scans. Both the employees are accused of death by negligence. According the family of the deceased, one of these employees, a ward boy, suggested that an oxygen cylinder should be carried for Laxmi Solanki, the patient who was to be about to undergo an MRI scan. Rajesh Maru, who carried the cylinder, died after it caused him to be sucked into the machine.

Radiology tests, such as MRI scans, are supposed to be conducted only by trained staffers of radiology departments.

While the hospital administration confirmed that the two staffers, resident doctor Saurabh Lanjrekar and ward boy Vitthal Chavan, were not from the radiology department, it refused to say which staffers from the department were on duty on Saturday night. According to the family of the deceased, there was an ayah in the radiology department who asked them to remove all metallic items, and another technician, who was present in the department. Maru’s sister Priyanka Solanki said that no radiologist was present in the department when they arrived for the scan.

As per standard practice, whenever a patient is brought in for an MRI test, he or she is asked to remove all metallic items that could possibly get attracted by the magnetic force of the MRI machine. They are then taken to a preparation room, where they disrobe and wear garments provided by the hospital. From there, a ward boy, technician, assistant technician or doctor assist the patient to the main room where the MRI machine is kept. A radiologist monitors the entire process. Hospitals run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation allow an attendant to accompany the patient. In this case, at least four people entered the passage right outside the MRI room with the patient.

Moreover, the main hospital employee monitoring the patient was Dr Lanjrekar of the medicine department. Along with him, there was ward boy Chavan. Neither of them were given special training to handle an MRI machine or conduct the test. While the family claims a technician was present at the spot, a hospital administrator said “he was not around”.

A doctor from KEM Hospital’s radiology department said the radiology unit gets training related to the machine’s software, and a medical electrical engineer is trained on handling the machine. “This is commonly known among doctors that MRI machines have a powerful magnetic force and nothing metallic should come in its range,” the doctor said.

A doctor from JJ Hospital’s rediology department said that if protocol was followed, such accidents would easily be avoided. “We only allow trained staff to handle patients. A relative can only accompany the patient under exceptional circumstances,” he said.

According to radiologists, in case new equipment is installed in a radiology department, the company provides a two-week ‘application specialist’ training to technicians, doctors, and staffers. Other department doctors and staffers are only given basic guidelines regarding the functioning of MRI or CT scan machines. “We know that MRI machines have magnetic force and general guidelines to doctors in academic curriculum specifies what precautions to take,” a resident doctor from KEM Hospital said. He added that the doctor accompanying Maru and the patient must have known that an oxygen cylinder could not be carried inside.

Maru died due to pneumothorax, after the cylinder he held started leaking upon hitting the MRI machine. In this condition, excessive air is collected between the lungs and the chest wall. In Maru’s case, it caused the collapse of his lungs due to increased pressure.

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