Falling MRI scanner kills worker at Utah hospital

2021 09 15 23 39 2518 Yellow Caution Tape 400

An MRI scanner that was being relocated killed a worker on September 15 when it fell to the ground outside the University of Utah Hospital. Another worker was injured in the incident, which is under investigation.

Workers were moving the MRI scanner from the fourth floor of the building to the first floor Wednesday morning when the scanner fell near the facility's loading dock, according to a statement on the hospital's website. The worker "fell alongside the MRI" magnet and was pronounced dead at the hospital's emergency department, according to the statement.

The worker who was killed was not a hospital employee, but he was employed by the company that was contracted to move the scanner, according to the hospital. Another employee with the company sustained a minor injury in the accident.

"We are incredibly saddened to learn that someone tragically died in this incident and our hearts go out to the family. We will work [with] all parties involved to understand what happened and identify the root cause, but our immediate concern is supporting all those affected," said Alison Flynn Gaffney, executive director of the university's hospital service lines and system planning department, in a statement.

State officials are also investigating the incident, according to a news report in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Accidents involving MRI scanners are rare, but unfortunately they do occur, often due to the powerful magnetic fields of the systems -- and occasionally they can be fatal.

A serious accident at a mobile MRI scanner in Sweden in 2019 injured a hospital worker and put the magnet out of commission for weeks.

In India in 2018, a man who was escorting a relative for an MRI scan was killed when an oxygen cylinder he was carrying at the request of hospital personnel sucked him into the scanner bore due to the system's strong magnetic field.

And in one of the most tragic MRI accidents, 6-year-old Michael Colombini was killed in 2001 when an oxygen canister was brought into the MRI suite where he was being scanned.

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