Mumbai: Man's death in Nair Hospital's MRI machine causes chaos among patients requiring scan

Updated: 31 January, 2018 10:52 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai

With Nair hospital's MRI machine shut, patients scramble for scans, but only two out of the city's 16 peripheral hospitals have MRI machines; waiting time at KEM is seven months

Nair hospital's MRI facility has been suspended and it's referring patients to other civic hospitals
Nair hospital's MRI facility has been suspended and it's referring patients to other civic hospitals

One accident has exposed how poorly equipped our civic hospitals are — the death of a 32-year-old at Nair hospital on Saturday after being pulled into an MRI machine has resulted in the facility being suspended, the machine sealed, and patients referred to KEM Hospital. The city's biggest civic hospital, however, has a waiting list of seven months for the scan, and hence, is referring emergency cases to Bhagwati, Shatabdi and Sion hospitals, or directing patients to private labs. Out of 16 peripheral hospitals, only two have MRI facility.

Lalbaug resident Rajesh Maru died after getting pulled into an MRI machine because of the oxygen cylinder he had been holding for his ailing relative and ending up inhaling excessive liquid oxygen. The Agripada police on Sunday had arrested Dr Saurabh Lanjrekar, ward boy Vithal Chavan and attendant Sunita Surve, booking them under IPC section 304A (causing death due to negligence). The trio had later secured bail.

So, when mid-day paid a visit to KEM Hospital yesterday, to check if it was equipped to handle the rush from Nair hospital, we found out about the excruciatingly long waiting list, with the newest OPD patients getting dates as far back as August.

Sunita Rao, who is suffering from neurological issues, is among them. "They gave us a date in August for the MRI scan. When I asked if it was possible to prepone it, they asked us to go to either Bhagwati or Shatabdi hospital. I plan to get the scan done in a private lab; we can't wait so long," said her son Harish, 26. KEM Hospital gets 40-odd patients for MRI scan daily. But on Monday, it got seven more because of the facility at Nair hospital being shut. Dr Praveen Bangar, chief medical officer of KEM Hospital, said, "We have two machines, but the older one is not working. Hence, the entire load is on the new one."

Nair hospital

Basics ignored
The sorry state of affairs doesn't stop here. Of the 16 BMC-run peripheral hospitals, only Shatabdi hospitals at Kandivli and Govandi have the facility. "A peripheral hospital is a multi-specialty hospital that's supposed to cater to an array of health conditions, but here, they lack basic equipment, like MRI machines. Only specialised cases are supposed to be referred to the main civic hospitals. Lack of infrastructure, however, has resulted in a majority of patients getting shifted to bigger hospitals, putting additional pressure on them," said Dr Ravikant Singh, a health rights activist.

Chief Medical Superintendent of periphery hospitals, Dr P Jadhav said that until the extension work on the hospitals is over, they don't have the space to start MRI services. "The work is on. Once completed, we plan to start MRI services in peripheral hospitals," added Dr Jadhav.

BMC orders probe
BMC has ordered a departmental inquiry against the three accused staffers at Nair hospital. The inquiry team, headed by Deputy Municipal Commissioner Sunil Dhamane and chief inquiry officer Rajendra Rele, will submit its report in 15 days. A senior civic official said, "Once the probe is done, we will take action against the guilty." Meanwhile, Opposition leader in the BMC Ravi Raja has demanded a job for a family member of the deceased and compensation of Rs 5 lakh. Also, BJP MP Mangal Prabhat Lodha met Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and demanded action against the errant staff.

The loopholes
* Failure of marking safety zones around the MRI room by not allotting adequate space, leading to dangerous metallic objects finding their way into the room
* Failure of providing dedicated MRI housekeeping boys round the clock
* Failure of systems that prevent unnecessary usage of non-indicated, non-emergent MRI at nights and on holidays when trained staff are fewer
* Failure of procuring MRI-compatible stretchers, oxygen cylinders, anaesthesia equipment etc
* Failure of conducting lectures on MRI safety for nurses, ward boys and doctors
* Failure of a security system around the MRI room, to restrict patient attendees in the zone
* Failure of providing a safety lock to the room, which can be opened only by designated staff
* Failure of preventing cleaning of the machine and the room at nights by outsourced housekeeping workers
As told by Shankar Bhagat, national coordinator, Society of Indian Radiographers

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First Published: 30 January, 2018 15:40 IST

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