VALHALLA, N.Y. -- A 6-year-old boy was undergoing tests to determine his progress after surgery for a brain tumor when his skull was crushed by an oxygen canister.
Michael Colombini was in the magnetic resonance imaging machine at Westchester Medical Center on Friday with the 10-ton electromagnet switched on when the metal oxygen tank was accidentally "introduced into the exam room," the hospital said.
The oxygen tank was "immediately magnetized and drawn to the center of the machine, causing head trauma to the child," the medical center said in a news release.
The county medical examiner's office said Michael died Sunday of blunt force trauma, a fractured skull and bruised brain.
Michael reportedly was recovering from an operation to remove a brain tumor, which was discovered last week after he fell down at home, relatives said. The MRI was scheduled to check Michael's progress.
Neighbors of the Colombini family said Michael was a happy little kid.
"What can you say? It's every parent's worst nightmare," neighbor Jenny Anson told the New York Post in Tuesday's editions. "Especially in a place where you expect them to be cared for."
Edward Stolzenberg, president and chief executive officer of the medical center, said in a statement that the hospital assumes full responsibility and "will do anything it can to ease the family's grief."
"The trauma was due to what can only be described as a horrific accident, and the entire medical center is grieving," Stolzenberg said.
Health Department spokesman Robert Kenny said investigators were checking records and interviewing staffers to see if there were any violations. The hospital and the Westchester District Attorney's office also are reviewing the case.
Carin Grossman, a spokeswoman for the medical center, would not say who took the oxygen tank into the MRI area.
"It was brought into the area of the field of the magnet and it went through the air," she said.
An MRI generates images of the body using an electromagnet, radio waves and a computer. It is used in the diagnosis of many diseases, including brain tumors, spinal disorders and heart disease. It is considered nearly risk-free.
In Rochester last year, an MRI magnet yanked a .45-caliber gun out of the hand of a police officer, and the gun shot a round that lodged in a wall.
The Westchester Medical Center, with four hospitals and six other centers 15 miles north of New York City, is a major transplant center and has recently ventured into robot surgery. It suffered a setback in March when an accreditation team caught the staff altering a patient's chart and automatically gave it a ranking that was among the lowest in the country.
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