Frischman & Rizza

MRI Missile Injury Malpractice Attorneys in Pennsylvania

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Quick Facts


An MRI is a common, highly-valued diagnostic tool used by doctors in various specialties throughout the United States, with more than 10 million procedures done each year. During an MRI, pictures of organs and structures in the body are taken to assist physicians in identifying cancerous and benign tumors, infections, multiple sclerosis, internal bleeding personal injuries from a car accident, and numerous other conditions. While typically a painless and relatively safe practice, certain hazards exist as with any medical procedure. For instance, negligent patient screening to detect ferromagnetically (iron-containing) objects before an MRI can result in devastating and even life-threatening injuries that may require extensive medical treatment.

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Failure to Detect Metallic Objects

Failure to properly look for and detect metallic objects in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite and on the patient’s body can result in what is commonly referred to as a “Missile Effect” injury. In the unfortunate event that a metallic object is not removed from the vicinity of the MRI equipment, the magnetic force of the MRI machine, which can reach 60,000 times the force of the Earth’s magnetic field, can pull unsecured ferromagnetic objects towards its core. In doing so, it can destroy and injure anyone or anything in its path.

Wrongful Death due to Missile Effect

Dangers associated with the “Missile Effect” injuries became publicized as a result of the tragic injuries and ultimate death of a young boy while undergoing an MRI scan at a medical facility in the U.S. During the screening, the MRI equipment’s powerful magnetic field pulled a ferromagnetic oxygen tank across the room, fracturing the boy’s skull. The events of this accident resulted in the formation of the Joint Commission on MRI Safety, which issued a Sentinel Event Alert bringing the inherent, yet not very well-known dangers of MRI screenings to the medical community’s attention.

The Joint Commission issued recommendations to medical institutions to prevent serious injuries associated with MRI screenings. For example, a “four-zone” concept was created to restrict MRI sites access. This four-zone concept restricts access to the MRI scanner, thereby limiting the possible risk of injury. Zone I pertains to the general public. Zone II deals with unscreened MRI patients, Zone III concerns screened patients and medical personnel, and Zone IV applies to MRI patients under the constant and direct supervision of trained MR personnel.

Since the U.S. has the second most MRIs per capita, cases of MRI malpractice are likely to soar. The benefits of properly diagnosing patients are quite important in pursuing the right treatment. But, should MRI scans goes wrong, there can be catastrophic consequences. Malpractice during an MRI procedure can result in severe injuries, both long-term and immediate. In some cases, it might lead to brain injury or even death if not addressed promptly and properly.

That being said, every MRI malpractice case has its difference. This is because every patient undergoing an MRI scan is different from the others, and so are their treatment needs. However, certain commonalities among MRI malpractice cases lead to injury. For instance, an ill-trained MRI technician who does not know how to work the equipment properly may cause serious damage and injury.

Objects that may cause Missile Effect Injuries

During the past few years since the MRI scanners have been in use, there have been documented cases of missile effect injuries. Some of the ferromagnetic objects that were recorded as having been drawn to the MRI machine include:

• Wheelchairs

• Defibrillators

• Ankle weights

• Sandbags containing metal fillings

• IV poles

• Mop buckets

• Vacuum cleaners

• Respirators

The most common reasons for these missile effect injuries in MRI suites are human error and lack of adherence to safety standards, protocols, and policies. If this ends up with a patient getting injured through no fault of their own, our highly qualified attorneys in Pennsylvania can file a missile injury lawsuit for the responsible party to fully compensate you for personal injury, medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitative care.

Risk Reduction Strategies

As missile effect injuries continue to rise due to increased use of MRI scanners, the American Journal of Radiology has some recommendations for medical facilities to prevent them. This includes putting in place protocols that allow housekeeping and maintenance staff to gain entry to the MRI suite only after proper safety training and when no patient is present in the MRI suite.

Recommended Preventative Measures

A few preventative measures for hazards in the MRI suite have been recommended by experts in the field of radiology including:

• Appointing a safety officer. They will have the important responsibility of ensuring safety procedures in the MRI suite are properly implemented and enforced.

• Putting in place systems that support safe MRI practices. These may include written checklists and protocols. Also, a periodic review and assessment of the organization’s compliance with the implemented MRI protocols, policies, and procedures.

• As a general rule, do not bring any equipment and device into the MRI environment unless it has been confirmed and labeled as MR Safe or MR Conditional. MR Unsafe devices contain ferromagnetic properties and should never be brought into the MRI suite. If a patient gets injured due to MRI Unsafe objects in the MRI suite as a result of the medical staff’s negligence, it can be deemed as a medical malpractice case MRI safe objects are not a hazard in an MRI environment while MRI Conditional objects pose no known hazard in specified MRI environments with specific conditions of use. The medical professionals must verify the safety of MR Conditional objects with the specialized scanner and MRI suite in which they will be deployed.

• Only use devices and equipment that have been tested and approved for use in an MRI environment. Such devices include oxygen tanks, aneurysm clips, physiologic monitors, and fire extinguishers, to name a few.

• Provide all medical and support personnel who require access to the MRI suite with safety education annually. It is also crucial to provide the staff, patients, and their accompanying family members with informational brochures, guidelines, or posters explaining the risks of injuries in an MRI environment. This shows the medical facility has taken appropriate safety measures to avoid missile effect injuries.

• The responsibility of controlling the equipment entering the MRI suite at any time should lie with the MR operator. Only MR Safe and labeled equipment should go into the MRI environment

Other recommendations include using trained personnel to screen patients, not once, but twice, to decrease the likelihood of a “forgotten” or “unknown” metal object on the patient’s person, and to ensure that the MRI technologist has the patient’s complete medical history so that the patients can be scanned, safely.

Free Case Evaluation

Although the efforts have helped reduce these injuries, there are still reports of “Missile Effect” injuries every year. Given careful patient screening and the implementation of the Joint Commission’s safety recommendations, these injuries are completely preventable. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury because a metallic object was left in the MRI suite or on your person, contact our law firm at 855-90-4INJURY for a free consultation with one of our experienced MRI lawyers.

Hire the Best MRI Missile Injury Attorneys in Pennsylvania

If you or your loved one have suffered a personal injury such as traumatic brain injury or emotional distress due to the negligent actions of your healthcare provider, you need top-quality legal representation in your injury case. Frischman & Rizza, P.C. is a high-quality personal injury law firm with years of experience in medical malpractice cases including magnetic resonance imaging missile injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

Owing to our professionalism, we have the best attorney-client relationship, and they trust us with confidential or sensitive information, knowing we will fight for their justice. We will assist you with the financial recovery of your settlement compensation to cover your medical bills.

For more on missile injury medical malpractice, visit Frischman & Rizza at our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can also book an appointment by calling (412) 291-3977 today.