How to pick just one when there are a number of alarming, tragic, and needless MRI accidents to choose from? Let’s look at one that we can help the reader better imagine, the case of a pair of flying scissors that had to be surgically removed from a technologist’s forehead…
OK, I’ve been reading too many headlines in supermarket check-out aisles, but what else is a guy with an overactive imagination supposed to come up with?
You see, back in 1983 when GE was going through their pre-market approvals with the FDA for their first commercial clinical MRI system, they indicated that MRI suite safety minimally required ferromagnetic detection pre-screening. The only problem was, it hadn’t been invented yet!
This week the settlement documents were released — closing the chapter on the lawsuit that arose from the seminal event in MRI safety, the 2001 oxygen tank fatality of then-six-year-old Michael Colombini.
It is the stuff of fabled oral-histories, often dismissed as MRI urban-legend. The patient is wheeled into the MRI room on a gurney that goes flying toward the scanner. “How on Earth could these accidents happen when we know about these risks,” the skeptics question? Almost never does more than a single fragment of information surface about these sorts of accidents and, without verification, nearly all accounts can be erroneously written-off as fiction. Or, that was until enough pieces fell into place to conclusively document a recent episode… Click Here To Read More About MRI Gurney Accidents…
That’s right. Yesterday, October 26th, the Colombini family formally accepted a settlement offer for the MRI vs. oxygen tank accident which killed their 6-year-old son in 2001. The settlement puts to rest 8 years of litigation resulting from the single largest MRI safety incident in the industry’s consciousness. And though precedent-setting verdicts won’t result, the dollar-value of the settlement will likely cause many MRI providers to sit up and take notice.
Yes, I think I’ve written at least twice before about the imminent start of the trial for the civil lawsuit stemming from the Michael Colombini fatal MRI accident in 2001. And, yes, I was wrong both times before. So, I would expect nothing less than readers of this entry to take my 3rd prognostication of the start of the trial with something more than a grain of salt… perhaps an entire salt lick! But today a little birdie told me that there’s a hole in the otherwise-booked New York Supreme Court trial schedule for late October / early November and the Colombini trial may just fit right in there.
I like to keep my finger on the pulse of MRI accidents and safety issues. One consequence of this is that I frequent the FDA’s MAUDE database (MAUDE is a tortured acronym for medical device user-reported mishaps). I have long criticized the FDA for their half-hearted efforts at collecting MRI accident data (which, in fairness, appears to be as much a product of congressional limitations on the FDA’s power as anything else), but MAUDE has been the only national database for these accidents that is publicly accessible.
Every so often there is an MRI accident description that is so stunning that it sends a jolt through me, reminding me why I do what I do. This is the entry that I came across just two weeks ago…
Last month, the judge in the Michael Colombini lawsuit (the case resulting from the infamous death by oxygen tank / cylinder brought into the MRI room while the boy was in the scanner) decided on three of the last outstanding pre-trial motions. The Judge’s decisions appear to have excused one defendant, entirely, and tempered the degree of potential liability for others.
Once again, we’re approaching the anniversary date of the most infamous MRI fatality and the corresponding MRI Safety Week. This year, through the in-kind support of my employer, Mednovus, I’m able to make available a MRI safety quiz (actually, it’s two quizzes, one for radiology / MR staff and one for the MRI layperson).