MRI Accident Rates: It’s Not As Bad As Previously Reported…


That’s right, the FDA has updated it’s MRI accident figures available online through the MAUDE database. We were alarmed and astonished when we thought that the rate of increases in MRI accidents was only 270% (from 2004 to 2008). Turns out that the FDA must have found additional accident reports that were in a stack of junk-mail, or got lost between the sofa cushions, which means that the rate if adverse events went up, significantly, in 2008 from the prior calculation.

Somehow, when I did the analysis last year (in 2009) of the 2008 numbers, it was apparently 11% shy of the final total. When we add the (previously uncounted) adverse events, the actual rate of accident growth is 310%!!!

Rates Of Reported MRI Accidents (UPDATED)

Between 2004 and 2008, MRI Accident Rates Increased 310%

That’s right, in 2008 we were more than 4 times as likely to injure someone during an MR exam than we were just four years earlier!

What would happen in your town if:

  • Traffic accidents quadrupled in 4 years?
  • Rates of violence in schools quadrupled?
  • Divorce rates increased 4x in 4 years?

Alarm bells, that’s what! People for certain would not be complacent.

There would be efforts to figure out why, and fix whatever was going wrong. Reduced speed limits or more traffic enforcement? You bet! Counselors in the schools and demands for greater teacher and parent involvement? Darn right! Lay and religious leaders reassessing the very nature of the marital institution in our society? Abso-friggin-lutely!

So, with an exploding rate of MRI injuries and adverse events, what is being done to identify and curb the source of these incidents? [cue cricket sounds]


Apart from the continuous efforts of a small cadre of MR safety advocates, whose cries have (apparently) fallen on deaf ears, there are no substantive accreditation, licensure, or regulatory actions that have reversed the trend of the last several years.

The silver-lining may be that the increase from 2008 to 2009 was very modest. Perhaps we’re leveling-off, or perhaps, like 2004, this is just a momentary pause before we skyrocket upwards again. And given the FDA’s marked upward adjustment of the 2008 numbers, it may wind up being another year before we can feel confident about the 2009 accident report numbers.

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

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