Five newborns admitted in the neonatal ward of a government hospital in Ajmer died within a span of about eight hours on Saturday night, prompting the district collector to initiate a probe.
“All the infants were not more than five days old, and three had been admitted only yesterday (Saturday),” said Prof B S Karnawat, head of the paediatrics department at Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, Ajmer. “All of them were referred cases and were in critical condition. They were weak and weighed less than 2.5 kg. Hence, they were susceptible to other diseases and infection. They died due to septicaemia and had respiratory problems. One child was already on ventilator,” he said.
“Prima facie, there doesn’t seem to be any lapse on the part of the hospital but we have constituted an independent committee of doctors to investigate the deaths and submit a report within a week,” said Ajmer District Collector Gaurav Goyal. “Second, we have instructed the doctors to be extra vigilant and third, we have isolated the batch of drugs used to treat these children and will test them.”
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Karnawat said the hospital did not get sufficient time to improve the children’s condition, some of whom died within two hours of admission to the hospital.
Rajasthan’s Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women and Child Development Anita Bhadel also rushed to the hospital to inquire about the deaths, and said these were “normal deaths.”
“The children were already serious and one among them was already on ventilator. Despite the best efforts by the doctors, they could not be saved. I can say with certainty that these were normal deaths, due to illnesses. (Questions are being raised since) these deaths were between 9 pm (Saturday) and 4.30 am (Sunday). But these underweight children were already in a critical stage and had been referred here. Now we have instructed (the doctors) to ensure that they save the children who are critically ill,” Bhadel told mediapersons.
Congress state president Sachin Pilot alleged that senior doctors were unavailable at the hospital during the night, which led to the deaths.
“It is the biggest referral hospital in the region and the children who died had been referred from Bhilwara, Beawar and Pali, yet the senior doctors were absent and allowed these deaths to happen,” Pilot alleged.
The incident comes close on the heels of 12 deaths at a government-run home for persons with special needs in Jamdoli, Jaipur.