scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Monday, December 06, 2021

GMC oxygen crisis: Panel says nothing unusual about death data; blames hospital for not raising supply issues

Health minister Vishwajit Rane had stirred up a storm when he claimed on May 11 that 26 Covid-19 patients had died in the Goa Medical College in the early hours of the day when supply of oxygen was interrupted.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: October 18, 2021 5:21:26 am
At the peak of the second wave in Goa, GMC relied on oxygen supply of trolleys that were driven by tractors from the supplier M/S Scoop’s plant, about 45 minutes away from the hospital. (Representational)

A three-member committee appointed by the Goa government to probe the alleged oxygen supply issues at Goa Medical College & Hospital (GMC) in May, amid the second wave of Covid-19, has said the hospital administration did not raise the issue of lack of oxygen or seek augmentation of oxygen on time. The committee also said that between May 11 and 13, it didn’t “find anything unusual” in the number of deaths.

Between May 9 and May 14 (excluding May 13 on which the government did not issue a mortality bulletin) GMCH — the state’s top medical institution that treated most of the critical Covid-19 patients — reported 188 Covid deaths of the total 323 across Goa. After the LMO tank at GMC became functional From May 15 to May 19, it accounted for 104 of the total toll of 230. However, this corresponded with a drop in the number of active cases at the time too.

Health minister Vishwajit Rane had stirred up a storm when he claimed on May 11 that 26 Covid-19 patients had died in the Goa Medical College in the early hours of the day when supply of oxygen was interrupted. That was also the day Goa recorded its single-day-highest mortality count of 75.

The committee, set up by the government on May 13, submitted its report on July 23. IIT Goa Director Dr B K Mishra, former dean of GMC Dr V N Jindal and revenue secretary Sanjay Kumar are part of the committee.

The committee stated that on three days – May 11, 12, 13 – “it was alleged that GMC had witnessed a large number of deaths between 02:00 hrs to 06:00 hrs, due to lack of oxygen….The committee could not find anything unusual in the number of deaths for those three days as was reported in the media, as compared to the other days.”

At the peak of the second wave in Goa, GMC relied on oxygen supply of trolleys that were driven by tractors from the supplier M/S Scoop’s plant, about 45 minutes away from the hospital. During peak demand, three trolleys (of 48 oxygen cylinders each) were required to remain connected. The system was replaced by the installation of a Liquid Medical Oxygen tank at the hospital on May 15.

The committee said that prior to the installation of the LMO tank, while there were incidents of pressure drops, they were not “long enough to cause loss of life”.

“Incidents of pressure drops were quite likely to occur during changeover of empty trolleys, especially due to the late arrival of the next trolley. Any drop in pressure activates an alarm in the wards. The committee concludes that such incidents did occur and caused panic among patients and healthcare workers. However, the committee could not conclude that such intermittent incidents of drop in pressure were long enough to cause loss of life… At high demand times, the trolley system based supply might have failed to supply adequate oxygen, especially at the tail end of the supply chain, even if it did not cause any death,” the report said.

The committee also said that GMC had not made an assessment for the rational use of oxygen and pointed out that prompt action on the issue flagged in a letter written by the Goa Association of Resident Doctors (GARD) on May 1 would have “enabled better management of the situation”.

The 35-page report also said that GMC did not have a Hospital Information Management System (HMIS) in place and that “data on the number of patients admitted, type of oxygen therapy was not readily available”.

“In the absence of proper data, linking death with the oxygen supply was an impossible job. The committee considered the data on the number of deaths as unbiased and accurate. Also, the number of total active cases is the most stable measure to gauge the pressure on health infrastructure at that time. It also shows the true picture of the pandemic for that day as compared to the number of tests or positivity data. Therefore, the ratio of deaths to active cases should throw light on the odd figures (outlier events), if any. Any unusual spike in the number of deaths on any particular day (11-13 May), as reported by the media, can be ascertained by plotting the trend of the ratio of deaths to total active cases.”

The committee noted that between May 7 and May 15, Goa had more than 30,000 active Covid-19 cases which was 2 per cent of its population. On May 13, the number was highest at 32,953.

The committee, however, appreciated the efforts of the administration for its “timely intervention” in setting up the LMO tank and creating an alternative source of oxygen for GMC, in just a week.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Goa News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement