Wired UK Feature On MRI Projectile Accidents

Color me flattered! (which I think is the color of that shirt in the illustration)

Wired UK Illustration by Lee Hasler. Click for Wired UK source.

The UK edition of Wired magazine just ran one of their ‘featurettes’ on this blog and picked their favorite (though, that’s a slightly squint word-choice for potentially deadly accidents) types of projectile accidents. Quote’s from — and a direct link to — the article follow.

Often when I renew my subscription to Wired (the US edition) I get the complimentary tote, or whatever other trinket they’re giving away. This time, however, apparently my renewed subscription coincided with a small feature in the UK edition for this blog! [Perhaps I should start subscriptions to Forbes or Yachting to see if there’s content-related good fortune that rubs off from either of those!!]

Below are quotes from the article (the original version of which is just a click away on the article title, below) and some of my added links to related content that aren’t in the online edition of the article. Please do visit the Wired UK site (click on the quoted headline, below) because they have embedded links to other, very interesting related Wired articles.

MRI’s fatal attraction

By Vaughan Bell|06 August 2010

Look out! It’s the dark side of the magnetic force

“It’s like Russian roulette, except that many don’t know that they’re even playing,” says Tobias Gilk, a California-based MRI safety consultant. MRI scanners have electromagnets so powerful that they can dislodge pacemakers, suck in beds from across the room and turn small metal objects into dangerous “ferromagnetic projectiles”. Gilk now collects data and reports of incidents at mrimetaldetector.com/blog.

[Well, maybe not dislodge pacemakers, but certainly disrupt them… sometimes with fatal results.]

Here are six of Wired’s favourite MRI metal menaces.

Floor polisher
This is so common that the internet has whole galleries of trapped cleaning machines. Floor polishers end up stuck in scanners when cleaners stroll into MRI facilities out of hours and only realise they’re in trouble when their equipment starts to gravitate towards the magnet.

[We could establish a very long gallery of floor polisher accident photos. In fact, in the ‘Flying Objects’ image collection of my friend Moriel Ness Aiver on his website, SimplyPhysics.com, there are quite a number of them to see! And while they don’t show you the actual accident, here’s a link to a Seattle news story on a floor-polisher meets MRI accident that occurred there.]

Metal gurney
A patient and a metal gurney were both lifted off the ground and pulled towards the magnet as they were accidentally wheeled into the MRI room. The scanner had to be shut down in order to free the bed, and the unlucky patient suffered from foot, ankle and leg fractures.

[Here’s a link to the FDA accident report for this specific accident (the news account having been linked above). And here’s a link to a popular image showing an ICU bed magnetically adhered to the face of an MRI scanner.]

An MRI machine disarmed an off-duty US police officer. She forgot she was carrying her Glock pistol as she accompanied her mother, who was being scanned. The gun was pulled by the magnetic force, jamming her hand between the pistol and the machine and trapping the officer.

[Here’s a link to my summary of the news story from that specific incident. There is also a peer-reviewed journal piece on a different, but similar, incident in which the handgun actually fired, despite the presence of two engaged safeties.]

A member of the public who was inside the scanner solely for research purposes got badly injured when hospital staff walked a flat-screen monitor through the room. The magnetic field tried to put the screen and the participant in the same place; the next stop was casualty.

[Here’s the link to the FDA accident report PDF for this one, too.]

An MRI technician ended up with a pair of scissors embedded in his forehead as he prepared a patient. Someone entered the scanner room with the scissors in their pocket — they were pulled out by the magnet and collided arrowstyle with the technician’s head.

[There have been multiple accidents involving flying scissors in the MRI room. This one is among the most severe.]

A wheelchair brought into the danger area shot across the room and pinned a radiographer to the scanner. The staff member was unharmed but a patient waiting for her scan was so frightened she fell off the bed and broke her leg.

[As with floor polishers, there have been many, many incidents of not-safe-for-MRI wheelchairs being brought to the MRI room. You can see a couple of these, as well as a sampling of other projectile objects here.]

Wired UK, September 2010

I am very flattered that the editorial staff at Wired UK included information on our humble little blog in their September, 2010 issue. I hope that this sort of attention raising opportunity is not lost on the audiences in the US and elsewhere.

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

Click for Tobias Gilk's Twitter Page Click here for Tobias’ Twitter Profile

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