THE Maharashtra government on Sunday issued new guidelines for medical oxygen usage based on recommendations of the central government-appointed expert committee. Private and public hospitals have been advised to restrict oxygen supply to 40 litre per minute in intensive care units and 15 litre per minute in normal wards per patient.
The Centre’s move comes in a bid to ration oxygen usage as the country slowly reaches close to exhausting its per day production capacity. Currently, India manufactures 6,900 metric tonne of oxygen every day, of which over 2500-2,700 metric tonne is medical oxygen demand and another 2,500 metric tonne is industrial oxygen requirement.
In fresh guidelines, the Union health ministry has fixed the per day consumption of oxygen at 57,600 litre for a severely ill patient. Niti Aayog has estimated that bout 3 per cent patients turn critical and require ICU support.
Earlier this month, Maharashtra had issued a notification, asking hospitals to restrict oxygen use to 12 litre per minute in ICU and 7 litre per minute in normal ward. On September 21, three days after the notification, state Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas was forced to issue a clarification that the state does not plan to restrict oxygen use after they received backlash from doctors. In the latest guidelines, the state government has decided to implement central advisory. The notification shared with all districts advises to put a severe patient on oxygen support for 18 days on an average. Patients with oxygen saturation levels lower than 94 per cent or below are eligible to be put on oxygen support.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, state president of Indian Medical Association, said, “The new guidelines seem more rational, but government should not restrict its usage. A clinician’s judgement should be final. Government should believe that doctors work ethically in patients’ interest,” Bhondwe said.
State health officials said they have noticed unnecessary use of oxygen on mild to moderately ill patients, and prolonged oxygen support even if it does not benefit a patient. A common complaint of pipeline leaks was also put forth. Pulmonologist Dr Jalil Parkar said a commodity like oxygen should not be restricted as several recovered patients continue to require oxygen support due to weak lung functioning.
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