Report: Staff was on phone before fatal MRI scan in India

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At least one hospital staff member was using the phone and failed to warn an Indian man who was killed when he carried a metal oxygen cylinder into an MRI suite in January, according to an official report released by authorities in Mumbai. The inquiry pins the blame for the accident on lax safety procedures at the hospital.

The report on the death of Rajesh Maruti Maru, issued April 12 by Brihanmumbai Municipal (BMC), pinned much of the blame on two ward assistants who were on duty at the time of the accident, which occurred in the evening hours of January 27 at Nair Hospital, according to an article in the Hindustan Times. The inquiry found that both individuals failed to follow hospital procedures designed to prevent the introduction of metallic items into MRI suites.

Investigators based their conclusions on interviews as well as closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage showing events that occurred before the accident happened, according to the article. Another story, this one in the Times of India, claims that one of the ward assistants was on her phone and not paying attention when Maru walked into the MRI suite carrying the cylinder while accompanying his mother-in-law for an MRI scan.

Maru apparently was aware that he was not allowed to bring metal into the MRI suite, as he is seen on the CCTV footage giving metal belongings to relatives as he proceeded through several rooms at the facility. But he then walked into the scanning suite carrying the cylinder, and the ward assistants failed to warn him, the report stated, according to the Times of India.

BMC's report recommends administrative reforms designed to prevent similar accidents from occurring; ideas include tighter security and prohibiting family members from being on hospital premises. Hospitals already allow only two relatives to accompany a patient, but this prohibition hasn't been followed. BMC will set up a panel of specialists at each hospital level to outline procedures that should be adopted.

A separate investigation is underway into the responsibility of the doctors and nurses who were working at the time of the accident. A radiology resident who was on duty has been arrested, but the local branch of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) has defended him, claiming that the incident was the result of staffing decisions made by the management of Nair Hospital.

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