The Central team that visited Odisha to investigate crib deaths has held delay in shifting the infants to the intensive care unit (ICU), inadequate monitoring by doctors and lack of laboratory facilities after 4 pm as the main reasons behind the deaths.
The team found that 22 of the 30 babies — that passed away at the Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel Postgraduate Institute of Paediatrics, Cuttack between August 21 and 28 — died between 4 pm and 9 am when there was no laboratory facility available at the hospital.
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“All the children who expired were very sick. Only 40 per cent were admitted to ICUs and only few cases could be shifted immediately (Delay was more than 4-5 hours due to non-availability of beds or other reasons). As far as treatment is concerned, in majority of cases the treatment was appropriate but monitoring, both by the doctors and the nurses, was inadequate. There was hardly any documentation of consultants advice on case sheets, though they might have seen the cases.
The Lab reports in many cases were not up to date,” stated the report that was submitted to the Health Ministry on Monday. In August 2015, 138 of the 1470 babies admitted to the hospital died, of which 82 were newborn. Also, eleven out of fourteen assistant professor posts at the hospital were lying vacant.
The team, which was sent by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, also found that the though in-house lab/imaging facilities are available in the hospital till 4 pm, in many cases, samples are sent to a hospital that is 4-5 km away leading to a delay of several hours in receiving the reports.
It also raised questions about the general state of hygiene in the hospital and found that life-saving drugs like meropenam and linezolid — both antibiotics —were not available.
It pointed out that the hospital lacked essential equipment like bubble CPAP (used to open respiratory airways), infusion pumps and pulse oximeters.
In its recommendations the team said that all life-saving drugs should be made available free of cost and there should be round-the-clock laboratory facilities, especially for emergency investigations like liver and kidney function tests, ultrasound, X-rays inside the hospital.