A hospital is facing a £20,000 bill to repair damage caused by a wheelchair which was flung across a room by powerful magnets in an MRI machine. It is thought a nurse had pushed the metal chair into the room to collect a patient despite warning signs not to enter. It was instantly picked up and sent crashing into the scanner - where a patient had been lying moments before. The patient and a radiographer, who were in the room at the time, were unharmed.
The incident at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire put the MRI scanner out of action for two days. Bosses have blamed human error for the incident and have launched an investigation to make sure the same mistake doesn't happen again. The hospital insider added: "This could have easily ended with a double fatality. "The force of those powerful magnets are so strong that they wouldn't have had a chance to get out of the way. I just cannot understand how this was allowed to happen. Everybody working in the hospital is aware of the strength of the machine and there are so many signs warning people not to enter while a scan is taking place.
"The nurse was shouted at to get out but they still continued into the room and the wheelchair just shot across the room. It slammed into the scanner and was bent round into the part where the patient lies. It's a miracle nobody was hurt or killed and something needs to be done to ensure all auxiliary nurses are aware of the dangers so this doesn't happen again." University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that the incident caused £20,000 damage to the machine and put it out of action for two days.
A spokesman added: "This incident was a result of human error by a member of our staff. Although no patients or staff were injured or affected, it is something we are taking very seriously. We will continue to investigate to ensure all staff adhere to the stringent safety measures we have in place across the trust." MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. The machine, which can cost up to £1million, contains large tubes fitted with a series of powerful magnets.