MRI accident leads to malpractice lawsuit

An accident involving an MRI unit, a metal walker, and a 79-year-old stroke victim is the basis for a malpractice suit in New York.

As described in an article in DOTmed News, on July 15, 2009, Daniel Mahony stepped into an MRI room at the Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology center in Medford N..Y. with his metal walker, which was pulled from his hand by the MRI unit, causing him to fall and hit his head.

Mahony was transported to a hospital after the fall, and two days later suffered a stroke; he died two months later.

Mahony's son filed a malpractice suit against the center, which has refuted claims it was responsible for Mahony's death. The center argued that Mahony had multiple risk factors for stroke, and that the type of stroke that he suffered was one caused by a blood clot, not trauma from a fall.

The case now is being tried in Suffolk County Surrogate's Court in Riverhead, N.Y.

Several doctors support the center's claim that the fall was not responsible for Mahony's stroke, according to DOTmed News, while another doctor testifying for Mahony's family said that head trauma can cause a blood clot to form in and around the brain.

Every aspect of the incident is being examined in this trial, Edmond Chakmakian, the attorney representing the Mahony family, told DOTmed News. "Everything is being disputed--liability and the causal relationship between the fall, and the resultant cause of death."

While MRI inherently is a safe modality, accidents have been known to happen, particularly in relation to the MRI "projectile effect." Arguably the most infamous case was that of six-year old Michael Colombini, who in 2001 was killed after being struck by a metal oxygen tank while inside an MRI machine.

Last summer, a patient at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York was crushed to death after a GE Hawkeye 4 gama camera collapsed and fell on him. GE recalled the scanners shortly thereafter.

To learn more:
- see the article in DOTmed News
- read this article about the Colombini case

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