CHENNAI: Fourteen patients who were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a private hospital here, died allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply caused by power failure at the hospital after the incessant rains.
Such was the situation that it prompted senior officials of the State Health Department to come out with a formal response, stating that all details were being looked into before taking a decision. On Thursday night, 14 bodies
were brought to the Government Royapettah Hospital for post-mortem, from the MIOT Hospital. The hospital had shifted the bodies to the government hospital after relatives identified the dead. The relatives alleged negligence on the part of the hospital authorities. “The generator was submerged in water. The hospital, which is in a low lying area, should have taken some precautionary measures during the torrential rains,” said Sunitha Balaji, daughter of Venkata Subramaniam (80), one of the deceased.
Sunitha said she got a call from the hospital on Wednesday that her father was in a serious condition. She had sent her uncle to the hospital since her house at Ashok Nagar was flooded.
Speaking to the media on Friday, the hospital’s joint managing director Prithvi Mohandoss admitted that the generators were submerged. “Water level rose to the first floor, but we could not call anybody as networks were down. Those on critical care were shifted to a place where oxygen and ventilator support was available. Still some died. There was no negligence on our part,” he said.
Director of Medical Education Dr S Geethalakshmi said the patients died of various health complications in the last three days. The hospital sent the bodies to the government hospital, as they don’t have a cold storage system to preserve the bodies. “The government will inquire into the cause of the deaths. That will be known only after reviewing case sheets of the deceased,” she added. Later in the day, State Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan issued a statement saying that on December 3, the hospital authorities made distress calls to the Corporation of Chennai, Directorate of Medical Education and also to him. They required oxygen and personnel for evacuation of patients after severe flooding and lack of electricity.
The generators in the hospital were submerged and were not functioning, and they had no standby generators. “Immediately, we arranged for ambulances and shifted patients to Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Kilpauk Medical College Hospital,” he said. “There were 14 bodies in the mortuary of MIOT of patients who had died due to medical reasons in the last few days. It was reported that these 14 bodies were not taken away by their relatives due to the floods. Noticing that the bodies could cause a health hazard, on a written requisition from the MIOT hospital authorities, the bodies were removed to the Royapettah Hospital mortuary,” said the statement.
Arrangements have been made to have the post-mortem examination done to formally ascertain the cause of death, the official added. Meanwhile, the City Police have registered a case of suspicious death under Section 174 (CrPC).