The Costs Of MRI Accidents (And How To Help Avoid Them)

I mentioned in a prior post that projectile accidents, ones in which ferromagnetic objects get sucked to the extraordinarily powerful MRI magnets, are expensive. We’re not just talking cab fare here. Not even a fancy night out. We’re talking easily 6-figure price tags for repair and service, plus tens-of-thousands in lost revenue and operational expenses.

Here’s a perfect example that made the local news in Seattle a few years ago…


$200,000! And that was probably just the repair bill and didn’t count the ongoing expenses such as the scheduled staff’s salaries, the cost of the machine and the service contract (which, by the way, wouldn’t cover this type of accident), and the $1,000 per hour that the hospital failed to bring in by performing MRI scans.

“Uhh, Mr. Jones we could probably squeeze you in if you don’t mind if we cover your body in Crisco so that we can slide you past the floor polisher that’s wedged in the front of the opening to the MRI scanner.”

And at $10,000 – $15,000 per day in lost revenue (and probably something approaching that for ongoing operational expenses) the immediate indirect costs probably start to rival the direct repair costs. Then add on the fact that the accident made the evening news. How many patients over the next several days and weeks canceled their appointments (or worse, simply didn’t show up) out of a fear that the MRI at the hospital was unsafe??

The shocking truth is that these sorts of accidents occur all the time. MRI providers can be faced with up to a half-million dollars in costs just from one overzealous housekeeper with a floor polisher.

Why do floor polishers and oxygen cylinders (and a whole laundry list of other items) repeatedly get sucked into magnets and cause so much damage? It’s usually because people are either unaware of the fact that there is a risk from these super-strong magnets, or because they mistakenly think that the object that they’re carrying is safe in the MRI room. In either case, a ferromagnetic detector could provide the feedback needed to alert the patient, support staff or physician that they have something on their person that may prove to be a major threat to the MRI scanner.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.

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