It seems that the incident actually did happen. Here's a typical report that came
up when I did a "Fetch" search on "MRI killing"
Lawsuit filed in MRI death
By MELISSA KLEIN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: July 4, 2002)
WHITE PLAINS — The family of a 6-year-old boy killed in an MRI accident at
Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the
hospital, its medical staff and others involved in the incident, which focused
international attention on the potential dangers of MRI procedures.
The lawsuit, filed this week in state Supreme Court in White Plains, comes almost a
year after Michael Colombini of Croton-on-Hudson was hit in the head by a metal
oxygen tank that was yanked by magnetic force into the MRI chamber. He died two days
later on July 29.
Michael's mother, Barbra Colombini, declined to comment yesterday.
"We're looking to get justice for this family that has suffered a terrible and
devastating loss," said Matthew Gaier, a partner with the Manhattan law firm Kramer,
Dillof, Livingston & Moore, which is representing the Colombinis.
The lawsuit names the Westchester County Health Care Corp., the parent entity for
the medical center, as well as its affiliated medical school, New York Medical
College in Valhalla, and General Electric Corp, which manufactured the MRI machine.
The suit also names anesthesiologist Dr. Jian Hou, who was reported to have carried
the oxygen tank into the MRI room, as well as a nurse, Mary Nadler, who is said to
have given Hou the tank, and two MRI technologists, Patricia Lauria and Paul
Daniels, who were operating the machine.
Those individuals named in the lawsuit have not previously been publicly identified.
Also named were University Imaging and Medical Associates, a doctors' group that had
supervised the day-to-day operation of the MRI suite, and Valhalla Anesthesia
Associates, the private practice that provides anesthesia services at the hospital.
Carin Grossman, a spokeswoman for the medical center, said the hospital would not
comment on the lawsuit.
"We continue to accept full responsibility for our role in this tragedy, and we
cannot discuss the issue any further because it's in litigation," Grossman said.
A spokeswoman for New York Medical College also declined to comment, saying the
college had not yet received the legal papers. A spokesman for General Electric did
not return a call seeking comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Michael Colombini was injured because of a "hazardous,
unsafe, defective and dangerous condition."
Michael, who had just completed kindergarten, had a successful operation at the
medical center to remove a benign brain tumor and was undergoing the MRI on July 27,
as a follow-up to that treatment. He was sedated for the exam and in the MRI machine
when the accident happened.
The lawsuit alleges that the hospital failed to properly anesthetize Michael, to
monitor his oxygen flow, and to "properly prepare for the MRI procedure and have all
necessary and proper oxygen supplies available."
General Electric was cited in the lawsuit for failing to place the proper warnings
around the machine noting its potential danger and failing to establish and issue
appropriate training and safety procedures.
According to a state Health Department review of the incident, the anesthesiologist
notified an MRI technologist that there was a problem with the piped-in oxygen
supply in the MRI room. Two technologists left the machine's control room to remedy
the problem, leaving the MRI unsupervised.
The anesthesiologist then urgently called out to obtain oxygen, according to the
What happened next had initially been a matter of dispute. The hospital's internal
review of the incident noted that a nurse said she gave the doctor the oxygen tank
in a hallway outside the MRI room. The doctor said the nurse brought it into the
The Health Department, in its report, found that the anesthesiologist brought the
tank into the MRI room.
Gaier, the family's lawyer, said both the anesthesiologist and the nurse were named
in the lawsuit because "one way or another, they were both involved."
The Health Department fined the medical center $22,000 for 11 violations relating to
the accident, including failing to properly report and investigate a similar MRI
incident that had taken place four years earlier. No one was injured in that
incident, of which the hospital said it was unaware until after Michael's death.
Hou's conduct was reviewed by the state's Office of Professional Medical Conduct,
which looks into potential cases of misconduct by doctors. The state Health
Department, under state law, does not release information if no action is taken
against a doctor. It only makes public final disciplinary actions and no such action
was on record with the Health Department as of yesterday.
Attempts yesterday to reach Hou, who still works at the medical center, were
The medical center made numerous safety changes in the wake of the accident, which
was believed to be the first fatality involving an object drawn into an MRI.
The accident lead to a national review of MRI safety regulations by the American
College of Radiology, which last month released stringent recommendations. Those
recommendations included limiting access to the MRI machines and educating health
care workers about their dangers. The medical center said it had already instituted
most of the recommendations.
"Marc A. Schindler" wrote:
> It couldn't have been a CAT scan, which is just a glorified, spinning x-ray
> machine, basically. I heard it was an MRI. I don't dispute Stephen -- he sounds
> like he knows what he's talking about, but I can't remember any more than what I
> [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
> > Stephen Beecroft:
> > >-Marc-
> > >> ... a tech had inadvertently left an oxygen cylinder in the
> > >> room, and when the MRI was turned on, it got sucked
> > >> right into the core, killing the poor patient (a young boy)
> > >> instantly.
> > > Unless MRI technology has changed significantly in the
> > > last 7-8 years, I find this a bit hard to swallow.
> > I heard the story pretty much as Marc described it. I didn't
> > hear a retraction. Maybe it wasn't an MRI or was a CAT
> > scan or something, or maybe the report wasn't accurate,
> > but I do remember hearing about it a few months ago on
> > the radio and reading about it in the paper.
> > Larry Jackson
> > [EMAIL PROTECTED]
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> Marc A. Schindler
> Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland
> “Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick
> himself up and continue on” – Winston Churchill
> Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
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