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1 dead, 1 injured moving MRI machine at U. Hospital

1 dead, 1 injured moving MRI machine at U. Hospital

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — One person was killed and another injured Wednesday while attempting to move an MRI machine at the University of Utah Hospital, officials said.

"From myself and our team, our hearts, our prayers, our tears are with the family that has been impacted by this event. We are sorry that this had happened today," said Alison Flynn Gaffney, executive director of U. Hospital systems planning and service lines.

The accident happened at a loading dock just north of the School of Medicine when the MRI machine fell, U. officials said.

An employee with the company contracted to move the device fell alongside the MRI machine. A rapid response team transferred the victim to the U. Hospital's emergency department where the patient later passed away.

"This was meant to be a milestone occasion for our team, and something that has been in the works for several years. ... We will work (with) all parties involved to understand what happened and identify the root cause, but our immediate concern is supporting all those affected," Gaffney said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

The second victim sustained minor injuries in the accident. Additional details about either victim were not immediately released.

Gaffney said the accident happened about 11 a.m. as crews were moving the equipment from the 4th floor to the 1st floor — an event the hospital had planned for for "multiple years."

The move included the use of scaffolding and other equipment. The Salt Lake City Fire Department was also on-site while the MRI machine was being moved, according to Gaffney.

After the accident, the fire department reported on social media the hospital needed to be evacuated due to a situation involving hazardous materials. The site was cleared without impacting patient care and no evacuations remained in place by 2 p.m., Gaffney said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is on site to investigate.

Average MRI machines weigh about 20,000 pounds, Gaffney noted. When asked what caused the death and whether it was tied to hazardous fluids from the machine, Gaffney said she did not want to "entertain" that question out of sensitivity to the victims' families.

"Our teams are the best teams that are out there, and we have planned and prepared for these types of event," including the move itself and the resulting accident, according to Gaffney.

"We do this all the time, and we do it successfully many, many times. And today was not one of those days, where we had this unfortunate accident. We will do all the due diligence and collect all the data possible," she said, promising the university will learn from the accident.


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