Millennium Post

Hospitals under radar post oxygen goofup

Hospitals under radar post oxygen goofup
In the wake of tragic incidence of failure of oxygen supply in the ICU of the Delhi government’s Sushruta Trauma Centre in north Delhi, health minister A K Walia, on Wednesday constituted a four-member committee under the chairmanship of Arun Kumar Agarwal, dean, Maulana Azad Medical College to review the existing medical procedures and facilities in Delhi government hospitals and make recommendations for modernisation, strengthening and up-gradation of the system.

At a high level meeting, health minister took the decision while reviewing the situation of existing health facilities and procedures in Delhi government hospitals at a meeting attended by the secretary, health and family welfare and medical superintendents (MS) of various Delhi government hospitals.

Walia said that the systems, will be over-hauled based on the status and requirements of each hospital. The members of the committee are D K Tempe, director professor & head (Department of Anaesthesia), GB Pant hospital; U C Verma, director professor (Department of Anaesthesia), Lok Nayak Hospital; A K Sethi and head of the anaesthesia department, Guru Teg Bahadur hospital.

Committee would have expert inputs from the MS of GB Pant hospital, Lok Nayak hospital and GTB hospital.  The Committee would visit the hospitals and submit a detailed report within a fortnight.

After the meeting, Walia said that the committee has been directed to come out with a standard operating procedure (SOP) to be implemented in Delhi government hospitals. The minister said that the health department will take appropriate action on the findings and recommendations of the committee so that such tragic incidents are not repeated in future.  

Walia informed that the committee set-up on Tuesday to examine and report on the incident at Shushruta Trauma Centre was directed to submit its report within three days. FIR has already been lodged against the contractor and the police has been asked to expedite the matter.

The minister informed that the Delhi government will set up a bio-engineering cell at the state level in Maulana Azad Medical College with inputs and support from Delhi IIT. The cell will examine the existing system and lay down procedure for its up-gradation in the hospitals.

Walia also directed the MS to continuously and critically examine all the services which have been outsourced.

Five posts of fire safety officers have also been created to take care of fire safety stipulations. Each officer will have a cluster of hospitals under his supervision.

As many as 16 hospitals have already been cleared by Delhi Fire Service. Six of its hospitals do not need fire safety clearance as per standard requirement of the department and the remaining 16 hospitals are undergoing finishing work as suggested by Delhi Fire Service. Meanwhile,chief minister, Sheila Dikshit has expressed her grief over the incident and has also announced an amount of Rs 2 lakh each to kith and kin of the deceased.


Another patient named Vikram who was also admitted in the ICU of Sushrut Trauma Centre (STC) died on Wednesday around 8.30 am. The hospital officials stated that Vikram died due to some operated head injury and not because of insufficient supply of oxygen.

Further investigation  into the death of four people revealed that the boy Amit who was on duty near the gas pipe line system was a helper and not a technician. Officials said because their payment got delayed to the company PES Installation Private Limited, which is incharge of operational management of central medical gas pipeline supply system at STC, they took their technicians back and send their workers in place of the technicians. Amit is one of them. They further said the company used to send only six out of nine workers on duty.

Though Amit has stated that ‘there was no drop in pressure, but he still opened a second cylinder as a precautionary measure.’ According to the doctors and staff on duty, the oxygen supply was restored within few minutes after the telephone call. From the statements of the persons working in gas plant, it is quite evident that at the time of incident only one oxygen cylinder was running.

Each cylinder is provided with a technician, but on that day there was only person on duty.  The committee inspected the gas plant site around 10 in the morning on Tuesday and found only one cylinder running and all other cylinders in both the oxygen bank were closed, although theyr were full. Doctors said, ‘In such scenario, there is a greater chance of oxygen pressure drop due to utmost dependence on human element and this drop in oxygen pressure may lead to mass failure of ventilators, which even momentarily prove dangerous for critically ill patients.’

The person on duty at the time of incident was untrained and he did not respond to drop in oxygen pressure in time which contributed in causing death of four critical patients in ICU on ventilator, claim the doctors. The hospital official said that the situation is beyond their control and the overall responsibilty is of the anesthesia department. According to them, the company used to send only six out of nine workers on duty.

Two of the technicians have been arrested by the police, who are investigating further.
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