A female inmate from Arizona suffered severe burns after being pulled into an MRI machine due to the negligence of a technician and a prison guard.
Lacey Windust, 38, was at a SimonMed Imaging Center in Avondale, Arizona for testing, when the technician instructed the guard to keep the metal shackles on her waist.
As a result, Windust, who has been serving a forgery sentence since 2012 and is presently incarcerated at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, was forcefully attracted to the MRI machine and got trapped.
The incident occurred in May 2022, but the recently released photos reveal the extent of her injuries.
MRI accident injures inmate and guard
The images exhibit a deep cut on Windust’s hand that required stitches, as well as bruises and imprints caused by the metal shackles yanking her body into the machine.
Windust, described the pain as being “cut in half” in a letter explaining the incident to her sister.
According to Windust, as she approached the machine, it rapidly lifted her off her feet and hurled her into the circular hole.
A separate report indicates that the prison guard, who was asked by the SimonMed tech to provide assistance, also became stuck to the MRI machine due to his gun.
Prison records indicate that the guard removed Windust’s leg shackles but asked the technician if they should remove the waist shackles, but the technician said, “No, they should be fine.”
To make matters worse, both the inmate and the prison guard were stuck int he machine for several minutes and screaming for help before someone cut power to the machine.
MRI accidents caused by regulation failure
MRI safety expert Tobias Gilk, familiar with the case records, criticized the lack of regulations and standards for MRI providers.
He stated that the incident highlights the failure to effectively screen and control access to MRI areas.
MRIs, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, create detailed images of organs, bones, and muscles, by utilizing a powerful magnet and radio waves, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The absence of comprehensive regulations makes MRI safety a challenging issue, leaving room for catastrophic failures due to the inadequate implementation of best practices.
Gilk questions who, if anyone, regulates these providers, describing the situation as the “wild, wild west” when it comes to MRI safety.
ABC 15’s investigation into the incident found that many of SimonMed’s 60 locations are not licensed or regulated by the state health department because of an exemption, due to being a private provider.