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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

‘Drill didn’t kill’: Agra hospital gets clean chit

No mock drill under which oxygen supply stopped, no proof of this: report.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar , Avaneesh Mishra | Lucknow, New Delhi |
Updated: June 20, 2021 4:38:53 am
Probe panels’ report said 16 patients had died at the hospital on April 26-27.

THE AGRA district administration has given a clean chit to a prominent private hospital, which was sealed earlier this month after a purported video clip emerged of its owner talking about cutting off oxygen supply to Covid-19 patients as part of a “mock drill” to find out “who will die”.

In the video clip, Dr Arinjay Jain, owner of Shri Paras Hospital, purportedly says that 22 patients were “filtered out” during this “experiment” as they “turned blue”. The incident is reported to have occurred on the morning of April 26.

Two panels were formed to probe the case: a four-member death audit committee comprising three doctors from SN Medical College and an official from the district health department, and a two-member magisterial committee. The district administration has submitted a report based on findings of the two committees.

“The death audit committee found that all patients had been treated as per Covid protocol and details of their oxygen status and supply have been listed,” the report said. “It also found that oxygen supply of any patient was not interrupted. Patients who died had comorbidities and (died) because of their critical condition. The hospital had been given adequate oxygen supply.”

The report said 16 patients had died at the hospital on April 26-27. While 14 had comorbidities, two had other issues, it said.

Earlier, the hospital and the district administration had said four Covid-19 patients had died on April 26, and three on April 27.

The hospital has been found guilty of spreading false information. It discharged patients citing lack of oxygen even when there was enough supply, said the report. Action against the hospital will be taken under relevant sections of the Epidemic Act, it said.

In the video clip, Jain can be heard saying: “Ek mock drill kari humne subah 7 baje… Shoonya kar diye sabke. Phir chhaant gaye 22 mareej… Turant khol diye. 22 chhaant gaye je marenge. Chhatpata gaye, neele padne lage… Chalo, 74 bache… Time mil jayega… Sabse bada prayog yahi raha. (We did a mock drill at 7 am. We made it [oxygen supply] zero. Then 22 patients who were likely to die were filtered out … We immediately restored supply. They started turning blue… 74 remained… We got time… This was our biggest experiment).”

He is also heard saying that the “mock drill” lasted five minutes.

“In this context, the doctor submitted before the committee that some words in the video were not his and the video had been circulated to create sensation, and it was part of a criminal conspiracy. The video was also used to blackmail him,” said the report. The counter-allegations will be probed separately by the police along with the role of a mediaperson in the case, it said.

The report said that in the video, the hospital manager is heard saying that a “five minute mock-drill was conducted and 22 patients were filtered out”, but a conclusion that this means many patients died is false. There was no mock-drill under which oxygen supply was stopped, and there is no evidence to support this, it stated.

Jain had earlier told The Sunday Express: “We adjusted the bed flow of oxygen of patients just to check what amount was required. Since everyone had been saying that oxygen must be used judiciously we decided to adjust levels to see if we could use less. We identified 22 patients who required high flow oxygen. We had sleepless nights over oxygen supply and this was our experiment to stabilise supply. We did not cut off oxygen, as is being said everywhere. There is no irreversible impact of lowering oxygen supply.”

Meanwhile, Agra DM Prabhu Narain Singh told The Sunday Express that the hospital continues to be sealed and in the coming days it might completely be shut.

Criticising the clean chit to the hospital, Ashok Chawla, whose mother died on April 26, said: “This is an absurd conclusion… The hospital will evade action. But we will not rest, we will take up the matter with higher officials because we did not get justice.”

Naresh Paras, an Agra-based activist who complained against the hospital on behalf of the families, said: “They (the panel) did not take into account the statements of the families and made a one-sided report. Besides, all officials were from the district itself. We are demanding a separate, impartial probe by a panel from outside this region. I have already registered a complaint with the NHRC. We are also looking at legal options to get a court-monitored probe. The hospital must face action.”

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