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A gamma camera apparently collapsed and crushed a patient on June 5 at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.

The victim was a 66-year-old man undergoing a procedure in a SPECT/CT scanner. The Wall Street Journal and DOTmed News identified the scanner as a GE Infinia Hawkeye 4. The Journal quoted hospital spokesman Jim Connell as saying the machine was installed in 2006 and was maintained by GE. DOTmed News quoted GE as saying the company believed the gamma camera was not under a GE service contract.

The hospital declined to identify the victim, citing privacy laws.

Connell said in a statement:

Our first concern is for our veteran patient and for their family. We are in the midst of conducting an investigation, and when we have a conclusive report, we will provide more information.

He said the camera had previously been used “without incident.”

GE spokesman Benjamin Fox told DOTmed News that GE Healthcare responded immediately after being notified about the accident “and is working with all appropriate government agencies to complete a thorough investigation.”

GE said that as of today it had not been given access to the scanner and thus had not been able to determine exactly what happened.

“This was a tragic incident, and our thoughts go out to the patient and his family,” GE said. “We are supporting the ongoing investigation into the cause of this incident.”

The Infinia Hawkeye 4 can weigh more than 6,000 pounds. The gamma camera alone weighs “hundreds and hundreds of pounds,” said William Spies, MD, a radiology professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

But catastrophic failures are, of course, rare. “I’ve been doing nuclear medicine since 1974,” Dr. Spies told the Journal. “I remember one other incident where a gamma camera fell on a patient.”

Related CME seminar (up to 20.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Imaging Advances: Abdominal, Thoracic, Skeletal

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