[FoRK] Killer magnets

Matt Jensen mattj
Fri Aug 19 08:02:08 PDT 2005

I hadn't realized that they leave MRI's on all night. The web page has pictures,

-Matt Jensen


M.R.I.'s Strong Magnets Cited in Accidents

The pictures and stories are the stuff of slapstick: wheelchairs, gurneys and
even floor polishers jammed deep inside M.R.I. scanners whose powerful magnets
grabbed them from the hands of careless hospital workers.

The police officer whose pistol flew out of his holster and shot a wall as it
hit the magnet. The sprinkler repairman whose acetylene tank was yanked inside,
breaking its valve and starting a fire that razed the building.

But the bigger picture is anything but funny, medical safety experts say. As the
number of magnetic resonance imaging scanners in the country has soared from a
handful in 1980 to about 10,000 today, and as magnets have quadrupled in power,
careless accidents have become more frequent. Some have caused serious injuries
and even death.

The magnets are never off, even at night, and cutting the electricity will not
affect them. They draw most of their power from supercooled helium, which must
be vented to shut down the magnet - a process that takes several minutes and
has hazards of its own.

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