A man carrying a liquid oxygen cylinder was killed when he was yanked into the jaws of an MRI machine and inhaled the gas that leaked out of the container, his family said on Sunday.
The police, however, said that Rajesh Maru, 32, was killed on Saturday evening when he inhaled excessive oxygen that oozed out of the cylinder when he had entered the MRI room with a relative, who was there to undergo the scan.
Metallic objects are not allowed in MRI rooms and the patient's family members said they were made to remove all such items, including mobile phone handsets, before entering inside.
They claimed the ward boy said that the oxygen cylinder could be carried in the room as the machine was not switched on.
The police have booked three staffers of Nair Hospital in Central Mumbai for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and arrested a doctor and a wardboy on Sunday, a police official said, adding that the role of the third accused, an ayah (sweeper), is being examined.
"The victim, as directed by the doctor, took the patient to the MRI room for the scan. There an oxygen cylinder leaked," a police official said.
The official claimed that the oxygen was in liquid form which is poisonous and the victim inhaled it in an excessive amount and died on the spot.
He said the patient was not affected in the incident.
The victim's brother-in-law, Harish Solanki, who claimed to be an eyewitness to the incident, said, "My mother, Lakshmibai, has been admitted to the ICU of the hospital since Janaury 26 for treatment of viral fever."
"Last evening, the doctor told us to get the MRI done, following which Maru and two other family members approached the MRI room," Solanki said.
He said the wardboy asked the family members to remove all metallic objects, including mobile phone handsets, before entering the MRI room, which they did.
"The wardboy, initially, told them that only two persons can go inside the MRI room, besides the patient, but later said only person will be allowed. Rajesh Maru volunteered," he said.
Solanki said the wardboy told them that the oxygen cylinder could be carried inside the MRI room despite the objection raised by family members of the patient.
"One one of my family members objected saying that the oxygen cylinder should not be allowed inside as it is metallic and can prove dangerous. However, the wardboy told us that the MRI machine was not switched on...," he said.
However, when Maru and the patient entered the MRI room, the machine was already switched on, Solanki claimed.
"The powerful magnetic field of the machine pulled Maru towards it along with the oxygen cylinder. Maru's hand got trapped in the machine while the opening of the oxygen cylinder snapped. After hearing this commotion, we all rushed inside the room and pulled him out of the machine," he said.
Another relative said a doctor, and an ayah were inside the MRI room at the time of the incident.
The doctor was later identified as Saurav Lanjekar.
"Maru's finger got crushed in the machine. By the time he was pulled out, he had inhaled excessive amount of oxygen (which leaked from the cylinder), causing his death on the spot," Solanki said.
Following the incident, Agripada Police registered a case under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code against Lanjekar, the ayah, and the wardboy, identified only as Vitthal.
The Maharashtra government has announced a Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of the victim.
Announcing the compensation, BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha said the three staffers have been suspended and an inquiry has been initiated against them by the hospital.
Lodha said he had sought an assistance and action against the hospital staffers from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Photograph: The hospital in Mumbai at which the incident happened. Photograph: Sahil Salvi