New arrest in fatal MR mishap

February 05, 2018
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
The investigation into the tragic death of a man in the MR unit at BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central in late January uncovered new questions of culpability – and has led to a fourth arrest.

The latest finding, according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, is that the metal detector of the unit was not functioning when the man, Rajesh Maru, 32, was pinned by an oxygen tank and died as a result of injuries he sustained.

The detector on the door was intended to prevent people from taking metal objects into the room, a BMC official advised, according to the Hindustani Times.

Maru had gone into the room with an elderly relative who needed a scan and was on oxygen. The family claimed that hospital staff had “insisted” that the dead man bring in the relative's oxygen tank. But according to hospital staff, CCTV footage that recorded the accident showed that staffers had not been involved in bringing the metal cylinder into the danger zone.

“It’s clearly seen that Maru voluntarily carried the cylinder inside the room. But it is obvious that poor staff members will be made scapegoats,” a hospital administrative officer told the Times.

Three staffers had been arrested earlier on charges of negligence – Dr. Saurabh Lanjekar, ward boy Vitthal Chavan and attendant Sunita Surve. They are now out on bail.

A fourth arrest in the case has also been made by Agripada cops. After the family informed them that radiologist Dr. Siddhant Shah was also at the scene of the accident, he was taken into custody and charged with dereliction of duty. He has since been released on bail as well, according to the paper.

Idez Kundan, assistant municipal commissioner, told the Times that metal detectors were standard at the entrances to MR rooms.

The reason for bringing the oxygen tank into the room by Maru is also under investigation, as the MR unit at the hospital had built-in oxygen.

“Our machines are compatible with [an] oxygen output facility, owing to which we don’t need an oxygen cylinder inside the room,” one BYL Nair Hospital radiologist told the Times. “Non-metallic pipe connections are enabled to make sure oxygen is provided to the patient if he needs it on an emergency basis.”

Nair Hospital Dean Dr. Ramesh Bharmal, stressed to the paper that, “there is an inquiry going on to find out the reasons and lapses of the incident. There is no use drawing conclusions because even we are clueless about why the cylinder was taken inside.”

On January 27, Maru had helped his sister's mother-in-law, Laxmibai Solanki, into the room for a test when the tank he was holding pinned him by the hand and trapped him in the device, according to initial reports of the accident.

Apparently the machine snapped the tank's valve off and led to Maru inhaling too much oxygen.

Maru’s family recounted that he was instructed not to leave the tank outside, and hospital staff had him help position the elderly patient in the MR. “The ward boy asked him to help. They said it was okay. He went close to the machine and instead got pulled along with the oxygen cylinder inside the machine. Instead of taking responsibility, the hospital workers scolded us for Rajesh having gone close to the MR machine with the cylinder in his hand,” said Maru’s sister Priyanka Solanki, who was also present in the room.

"When we told him that metallic things aren't allowed inside an MR room, he [the hospital worker] said 'sab chalta hai, hamara roz ka kaam hai' (it's fine, we do it every day). He also said that the machine was switched off. The doctor, as well as the technician, didn't say anything," Solanki told NDTV.

A postmortem at J J Hospital showed that the cause of death was pneumothorax, in which excessive air enters the lung.