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Fatal MRI machine accident brings arrests, investigations

MRI machine death

Two people have been placed under arrest and multiple investigations are underway in India over a fatal accident that saw a man carrying a metal oxygen tank pulled into an MRI machine earlier this week. The local government of India's capital city, the MRI machine maker and the hospital involved are all looking into the bizarre death.

"A team from Philips company, the manufacturer of the MRI machine, will visit Nair hospital today following the fatal accident a couple of days back," Dr. Ramesh Bharmal, head of the BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, told India's PTI news agency.

The city government of Mumbai also announced an investigation into the death of Rajesh Maru, whom relatives say only entered the MRI room after being assured by a junior member of the hospital staff that it was safe to do so while carrying the oxygen tank. Metal objects are forbidden in MRI rooms as the machines use an extremely powerful magnetic field to produce their images.

"We have arrested a doctor and another junior staff member under section 304 of the Indian penal code for causing death due to negligence," Mumbai police spokesman Deepak Deoraj told French news agency AFP.

Patient MRI scan
File photo of a patient in an MRI machine. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The incident occurred on Saturday night at the Indian financial capital's Nair Hospital.

Police said preliminary reports suggested that the man had died from inhaling liquid oxygen that leaked from the cylinder.

It is thought the cylinder was damaged after hitting the machine.

Bharmal, the dean of the hospital, told AFP that an investigation had been launched to determine the exact cause of death, adding CCTV footage of the incident had been handed over to police.

The victim's uncle said Maru had been asked to carry the cylinder by the junior staff member who assured him the machine was switched off.

"The ward boy who was supposed to prevent such incidents told my family members to go inside when the machine was turned on. We are shocked and devastated," Jitendra Maru told AFP.

The state government of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, announced compensation of 500,000 rupees ($7,870) for the victim's family.

Though rare, accidents involving MRI machines have harmed people in the past.

In 2014 two hospital workers sustained injuries when they were pinned between an MRI machine and a metal oxygen tank for four hours at a hospital in New Delhi.

In 2001, a 6-year-old boy undergoing an MRI scan in New York was killed when a metal oxygen tank flew towards the machine and crushed his skull.