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Delhi hospitals panic: ‘If patient suffers, responsibility of relative, not ours’

On Saturday morning, two hospitals in Delhi — Saroj Super Speciality and Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre — raised an alarm over their oxygen tanks running dry.

By: Express News Service Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi |
Updated: April 25, 2021 12:57:13 am
Outside Lok Nayak hospital. (Express Photo by Anil Sharma)

With hospitals reeling under acute shortage of oxygen supply for the fifth day in a row, several patients were left in the lurch — some hospitals reached out to families to discharge patients while others reduced the number of Covid beds.

On Saturday morning, two hospitals in Delhi — Saroj Super Speciality and Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre — raised an alarm over their oxygen tanks running dry.

At Saroj hospital, 27 patients were discharged on Saturday. The hospital, which has an occupancy of around 200 patients, has admitted 121 out of which 116 have Covid.

In a declaration, the hospital’s management stated: “Because of uncertainty of oxygen supply, and oxygen vendors not promising to give oxygen as per our requirement or continuously, we are forced to announce that because of paucity of oxygen with us, we may not be able to give oxygen. Therefore, you may shift your patient to your choice of hospital. In case of scarcity of oxygen, if any patient suffers, it will be the responsibility of the patient’s relatives and not the hospital.”

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The hospital, however, received supply at 3.30 pm. “We have never seen a situation like this before. We have stopped taking admissions; those who are stable are being discharged. However, even after issuing the declaration note, no patient or attendant has left the hospital. We all will fight this battle together,” said hospital director Dr P K Bharadwaj.

Similarly, Batra hospital did not admit new patients on Saturday. “We have a capacity for 350 patients but we have 300 patients at the moment and are not taking new admissions. Supply was replenished at 5 pm but the struggle to have constant supply will begin again on Sunday,” said hospital medical director Dr SCL Gupta.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital was also pushed to the edge as it waited for oxygen tankers to arrive. Dr D S Rana, chairman of the hospital’s board, said: “Every few hours, we have an oxygen crisis and the whole administration is only busy making frantic calls. We feel sad to see people bringing their oxygen cylinders. Presently, we have 516 Covid patients out of which 128 are on high flow oxygen supply. This cannot go on for long. Our staff are getting exhausted. On one side they have increased Covid beds, and on the other, they can’t supply oxygen in sufficient quantities. How are we supposed to work? If this is a Covid tsunami, and the government has invoked the Disaster Act, then they should work according to the Disaster Act. We need immediate intervention.”

The crisis also pushed Delhi government’s GTB hospital to reduce the number of Covid beds from over 900 to 700.

A senior doctor from the hospital said, “All patients admitted in the hospital need oxygen support. We had to review the entire situation. Many healthcare workers are also getting infected. The decision to reduce the number of beds has been taken after considering all factors.”

Admissions in the emergency department at AIIMS were also restricted for an hour on Saturday. “Admissions in the emergency were restricted for an hour as oxygen pipelines were being reorganised due to increased requirement for Covid patients. Currently, around 100 Covid patients are receiving treatment in the Emergency. This is in addition to more than 800 patients admitted at various centres of AIIMS,” the hospital said in a statement.

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