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.
One of the most oft-cited rationalizations for not complying with contemporary best practices that call for using ferromagnetic detection (FMD) for MRI pre-screening is that ‘FMD doesn’t catch anything that existing screening protocols aren’t meant to catch.’ What you may find surprising about this statement is that I agree with it wholeheartedly… I would just change the inflection a bit. I would say it more like…
Ferromagnetic detection doesn’t catch anything that existing screening protocols aren’t meant to catch.
That inflection makes a world of difference, as you’ll see in just a moment…
Nearly all MRI accidents that wind up the subject of civil lawsuits conclude the same way… in confidential settlement protected by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This makes it extremely difficult to get to the facts associated with any particular accident. Currently the highest profile MRI accident (the death of a young boy from a flying oxygen cylinder) is in pre-trial litigation and is our best window into the legal responsibility of Technologists and providers. Today, however, I learned of another suit in which a Tech is suing her former employer for willfully putting off needed system repairs that compromised image quality and diagnostic value.
No, this isn’t about federal banking bail-outs or corporate welfare. This is the cost, in real-world dollars, of an average single MRI projectile accident in the VA Healthcare system.
Indeed. Nearly 8 years later, the civil lawsuit trial surrounding the infamous death of a 6-year old boy is scheduled to begin in March of 2009.
The multi-million dollar lawsuit has been grinding through the legal system as a myriad of claims and counter-claims have been ricocheting around among the parties. Those who’ve been watching the pre-trial activities may attest to it sometimes resembling a soap-opera with shifting alliances, but it appears that the parties’ day in court will come in less than 100 days.
The single accident that really galvanized the very existence of the MRI safety movement was an accident that occurred in 2001 at Westchester Medical Center in New York State. In that tragedy, a steel oxygen cylinder was brought into the MRI room while Michael Colombini, a six-year old boy, was receiving a post-operative MRI to confirm they doctors had successfully removed his brain tumor.
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