THE Rajasthan government has set up a high-level committee to inquiry into the deaths of 77 infants in the first 24 days of December at J K Lon Government Hospital in Kota. Ten of the deaths happened in a span of 48 hours between December 23 and 24.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the hospital on Friday, Secretary, Medical Education Department, Vaibhav Galriya, said there were several problems at the hospital, including improper maintenance of equipment and shortage of oxygen lines.
In its report to the Principal, Kota Government Hospital, the Paediatrics Department, however, said most of the equipment is functional and none of the patients died due to lack of resources. The registered cause of death ranges from pneumonia to septicaemia. No post-mortems were conducted as the deaths were not suspicious.
The infants were admitted in neonatal intensive care unit and paediatric intensive care unit.
J K Lon is the biggest government hospital for children in Kota. It receives 200-300 patients in the OPD apart from 30-40 admissions everyday in its Paediatrics Department.
In its report, the department said that of the 10 infants who died in 48 hours, six had been referred to it from other hospitals in a critical condition while five were newborns. Seven of these deaths happened within 24 hours of admission. This year till December, the department added, the hospital had seen deaths of 940 children, a drop from earlier years.
With Lok Sabha Speaker and Kota MP Om Birla raising the matter, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also quoted the same figures Saturday, while adding that he had looked into the matter himself. He told reporters in Jaipur, “The least number of deaths have happened this year. Even death of a single child is unfortunate, but there have been 1,500 deaths in a year, or 1,400, 1,300. This year there have been around 900. But why have 900 deaths happened, because even a single death shouldn’t happen.” Paediatric Department data shows it has seen an average of 1,000 deaths every year since 2014.
Gehlot added that three-four deaths in a day at a hospital isn’t rare. “In entire state, in every hospital, three, four, five deaths happen daily, even in Jaipur… What punishment can be given, that should also be for the entire state.”
Galriya told reporters, “Instructions have been given for maintenance of equipment. We are initiating the process right away and have sufficient money for it. Shortage of oxygen lines in the NICU has also come to light. When there is no line for oxygen, patients need to be provided oxygen cylinders inside NICU, which is a bit risky from infection perspective. Orders have been issued for installation of oxygen lines in the NICU… It has also come to light that during monitoring of infection, the frequency of sampling was not adequate.” He said they were also looking at shortage of 30-35 per cent in nursing staff.
The BJP accused the government of lack of empathy. State BJP president Satish Poonia who visited the hospital Saturday said, “It is surprising to see 10 infants die within 48 hours. In terms of infrastructure, the situation is dismal. Cleanliness is not as it should be. Instead of nursing staff, the wards had parents, and up to three children were lying on one bed.”
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