Gorakhpur tragedy: Hospital erred in delaying order for more oxygen, says supplier

Hospital authorities should have placed an order by August 8 for continued supply as per protocol, but they did so only on Aug 11.

Published: 15th August 2017 08:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th August 2017 08:24 AM   |  A+A-

A child receives treatment in the Encephalitis Ward at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur on Monday | PTI

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: After 30 children died at Baba Raghav Dev Medical College in Gorakhpur between August 9 and 11, hospital authorities blamed the disaster on disruption of oxygen supply by private company Pushpa Sales. The authorities alleged the firm had suspended the supply as bills to the tune of Rs 70 lakh were yet to be cleared. The firm, however, denied this claim.

“We maintained supply to BRD Medical College irrespective of the overdue payment,” said Meenu Walia, office & HR head of Pushpa Sales, claiming the first consignment for the month was released on August 4 against an earlier requisition placed by the medical college. After a week’s silence, the next intimation (after August 4) for a refilling request from the college authorities was given to the company on August 11 and the consignment reached the hospital on August 12, 2017, claimed Walia.

“Thus, the supply was never interrupted by the company irrespective of the non-payment of bills pending for the last six months and despite repeated reminders,” she added. However, the company had issued a legal notice to BRD Medical College on July 30. The notice had clearly mentioned that payment should be cleared within 15 days but authorities did not respond to it.

According to Walia, oxygen supply to any hospital or medical college needed a three-source protocol — oxygen cylinder, liquid oxygen and Ambu bag — according to norms. College sources added a consignment of 6000-litre liquid oxygen can sustain the system for six days.

“After receiving a delivery, the requisition for the next consignment needs to be placed within four days as it takes around two days to reach,” said a highly-placed source. In this case, the authorities should have placed the order latest by August 8.

However, the panic-stricken medical college administration placed the order only on August 11, after having transferred the money. But by then, the damage was done and at least 30 lives across neo-natal, acute encephalitis syndrome and general wards were lost.

Moreover, the company’s director Manish Bhandari questioned the maintenance of protocol for the life-saving gas for the patients in the hospital. “While adequate amounts of the liquid gas were being supplied on time, every hospital and medical college is expected to maintain 350-400 filled cylinders at any given point, whereas, at the time of tragedy, when the pressure of the liquid oxygen went down considerably on Thursday (August 10) night, only 50-60 cylinders were in the hospital,” he said. A statement released by the hospital on August 11 said that after supply ran out at 7.30 pm on August 10, there were only 52 reserve cylinders.

Action, reactions

  • Resident doctors of the AIIMS condemned the sacking of Dr Kafeel Khan, alleging that he had been made a scapegoat. Khan is also alleged to be running a 50-bed hospital for children by proxy

  • The NHRC has sent a notice to the UP government stating that it indicated gross callousness on the part of health administration

  • UP Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh claimed that corruption had been detected in the administration of BRD Medical College

SC refuses to intervene

The Supreme Court refused to intervene in the issue saying the matter was being handled by the UP govt. Any grievances about it should be raised before the Allahabad High Court, the top court told a lawyer who mentioned the issue before it on Monday morning

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