An inquiry committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), that probed the Apex Hospital fire incident, on Saturday stated that “prima facie, there is no negligence” on the hospital’s part. Members of the committee told The Indian Express that the hospital had followed protocol possible at the time of transferring patients.
The members of the BMC inquiry committee include the assistant commissioner, a medical officer, the dean of Mulund Jumbo facility and an official from the civic body’s mechanical and engineering department. A committee members said that they had inspected the hospital generator, the transfer procedure and taken statements from other hospitals to where the patients had been shifted. Two of the patients had died following the transfer.
On the evening of October 12, Mulund-based Apex hospital had to transfer 38 of its Covid-19 patients to eight hospitals after its overheated generator had caught fire in the hospital’s compound. The hospital had been running on a generator since 10 am that morning, following a power outage across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Around 5.30 pm, the generator caught fire, shutting down power supply to the hospital’s ventilators and intensive care units (ICUs). Hospital records showed that at the time of the incident, there were 10 critical patients on ventilator support, three patients on high flow nasal cannula and 10 patients on normal oxygen support.
The hospital had arranged for ambulances and transferred patients to other hospitals by night.
Two patients, Pandurang Dattatrey Kulkarni (84) and Virendra Singh (54), had died soon after their transfer to Fortis Hospital. While Kulkarni was already critical, Singh was stable but had shown low pulse rate and oxygen saturation levels after the transfer procedure and had to be put on a ventilator. He died a few hours later.
In a statement, Fortis Hospital had maintained that Singh “was brought to us in a critical state without BiPap (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure), with rapid and shallow breathing, he was also restless, disoriented (he was restrained) and hypoxic (sic).”
However, Singh’s son, Krishna Singh said that he plans on lodging a case against Apex Hospital.
In its inspection, the four-member BMC committee found that Apex Hospital had purchased a secondhand generator for usage during power failure. The generator had worked for over seven hours before it got overheated and caught fire. “The generator was six to eight years old and in poor condition. Apart from that, we did not find any major faults in the system,” said a committee member, adding that the transfer process had no major discrepancy.
BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner, Suresh Kakani said, “The report is almost ready. We are waiting for it before taking a further call.”
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