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Rajasthan: Rights panel seeks report after two Covid patients die of ‘low oxygen supply’ in hospital

While denying that the deaths of the two patients resulted from oxygen shortage, the NMCH hospital administration conceded that the oxygen pressure had decreased after a delay in filling the cylinders.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
April 21, 2021 8:42:40 pm
Rajasthan, Covid-19A factory worker sanitises cylinders containing medical oxygen, required for treatment of critical COVID-19 patients, as coronavirus cases surge in Ajmer, Rajasthan. (Photo: PTI)

The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission (RSHRC) has taken cognisance of the death of two Covid-19 patients at a government hospital in Kota district, with the family members alleging that the deaths took place due to disruption in oxygen supply.

Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma, a member of the state human rights panel, has sought a factual report from the state government on the matter. The hospital administration has denied that the deaths resulted from oxygen shortage.

“My brother-in-law Asif Hussain (26) was admitted to the New Medical College Hospital (NMCH) about 17-18 days ago. Later he tested positive for Covid-19 and was subsequently put on ventilator support. Late on Monday night, his condition deteriorated after the oxygen supply stopped. We could overhear the hospital staff saying that the oxygen plant had stopped working,” said Farid Mohammed, who was with Asif at the hospital.

He alleged that the oxygen shortage continued for 45 minutes, resulting in the death of Hussain and another patient, a woman.

“The oxygen supply had stopped entirely and it was not a case of low oxygen pressure. All the patients who were on ventilator support were experiencing breathing difficulties. After 45 minutes, oxygen supply was restored but Hussain died around 5:30 am on Tuesday,” Mohammed said.

Family members said that Hussain, who was a resident of Morak in Kota district, got married just three months ago and used to run an e-Mitra kiosk.

In its order on Wednesday, the RSHRC sought a factual report from the state government about the incident by May 5 and also directed the chief secretary, principal secretary, health department and the DGP to ensure that such incidents are not repeated. It also asked the state government to issue guidelines in this regard.

“Stoppage in oxygen supply can result from some technical reasons or carelessness. The responsibility lies with the person under whose jurisdiction the oxygen plant came,” said the order by Justice Sharma.

He added that ‘humanity has been shamed’ because of the incident.

While denying that the deaths of the two patients resulted from oxygen shortage, the NMCH hospital administration conceded that the oxygen pressure had decreased after a delay in filling the cylinders.

“Our demand for oxygen is very high and some difference in supply had been observed. A certain pressure is needed to run a ventilator. At present, the consumption is so much that all the oxygen cylinders are opened at a time. When a cylinder gets empty, a new cylinder has to be installed. But if there’s any delay on the part of the vendor who has to fill the cylinder, there’s nothing we could do. That day, the vendor’s vehicle arrived two minutes late, resulting in a drop in oxygen pressure for 2-4 minutes,” Nilesh Jain, superintendent, NMCH Kota, said.

However, he claimed that the two patients, who were in critical condition, didn’t die because of oxygen shortage or decrease in its pressure. But Hussain’s brother-in-law insisted that there was negligence from the hospital’s end and oxygen shortage was responsible for his death.

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