Indian group defends radiologist in fatal MRI incident

2017 04 14 10 42 37 173 Mri Scanner 400

A local branch of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) has come to the defense of the radiologist who was arrested in connection with the death of a man who carried an oxygen cylinder into an MRI suite in January, according to a February 12 article in the Indian Express.

Dr. Siddhant Shah, a 25-year-old radiology resident, was arrested several days after the fatal incident, in which Rajesh Maruti Maru was sucked into the magnet bore after he carried the oxygen tank into the MRI room. Maru is believed to have died from a pneumothorax caused by inhaling oxygen that leaked from the damaged cylinder. In addition to Shah, authorities have arrested the resident physician from the intensive care unit (ICU) who was on duty that day, as well as two healthcare personnel.

But the Maharashtra branch of the IRIA believes that Shah was not at fault in the incident, and that Maru's death was caused by staffing decisions made by the management of Nair Hospital, where the incident occurred.

The group noted that residents have to work 16 to 18 hours a day, and there was a shortage of qualified personnel at the facility when the scan occurred, at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Maru was accompanying his mother-in-law for a scan that was originally scheduled for 3 p.m.

Nurses at Nair Hospital typically work until 4 p.m., but the scan had to be postponed because of a shortage of oxygen cylinders required to transport Maru's mother-in-law from the ICU to the MRI suite, according to the article. This left Shah to do the work of multiple healthcare personnel.

Shah told the patient and her relatives to remove metallic items before entering the MRI room, the Indian Express story states. He then went into the console room to check with ICU staff as to why the scan was being performed.

A nurse typically would have been present to monitor the removal of metallic items prior to allowing the patient to enter the MRI suite, but in this case the job was performed by a ward boy -- essentially an orderly -- who usually worked in the ICU. Maru's family claims that the ward boy told him to carry the oxygen cylinder into the MRI room -- a charge that the hospital has denied.

Indian hospitals are required to have metal detectors at the entry doors to the MRI suite, but the one at Nair Hospital apparently was not functioning, according to other published reports.

The IRIA branch has raised questions as to why MRI protocols were violated during the incident, and it has asked for the charges to be dropped against Shah and the ICU resident physician. The group has written to the state health minister, the Mumbai police commissioner, and the municipal chief expressing its concerns.

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