DC mismanaged Chamarajanagar oxygen crisis: HC panel

Family of victims should get compensation; Oxygen-use register at hospital tampered with, finds report

Published: 13th May 2021 05:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th May 2021 02:21 PM   |  A+A-

Oxygen cylinder, Bengaluru

Karnataka has a daily allocation of 965 MT of Oxygen from the Centre | Shriram BN

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The state-level Covid Monitoring Committee of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority submitted its report to the Karnataka High Court, stating that the death of 24 patients at Chamarajanagar District Hospital on the intervening night of May 2 and 3 is due to lack of oxygen.

“Oxygen was not available after 10.30 pm on May 2, 2021. The gross negligence being apparent, it would be appropriate for the next of kin of the deceased to be granted a suitable amount as the court may deem fit as compensation,” the committee recommended.

The report, placed before the special division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shriniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar on Wednesday, stated that at a meeting held by the Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner on May 2, there was not even a mention of oxygen shortage at the hospital. Neither the camp officer nor the nodal officer of the hospital raised an issue on the supplies from Mysuru being affected, it stated. The panel, which was led by former judge of high court Justice AN Venugopala Gowda, had Justice KN Keshavanarayana, former judge of HC, and ST Ramesh, former DG&IGP, as members.

“Had the hospital administration been vigilant, it could have had enough oxygen stock by having timely refilling of cylinders by its suppliers being more than one. With the bottling plant at a distance of about 70 km, not having sufficient storage of filled oxygen cylinders at Chamarajanagar is an act of callousness and has led to loss of dozens of precious lives,” the report noted.

It pointed out that the Chamarajanagar DC did not exhibit the dynamism and leadership qualities expected of a district head in a crisis. As a chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee, he miserably failed to guide and supervise the crisis. He indulged in an unsavory blame game, without any basis, accusing the Mysuru DC of hindering the supply of oxygen, the report said.“The failure of the district administration in general and the hospital authorities in particular, including the Dean of Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences, is apparent,” it said.

The report said  that a theory of leak in the oxygen tank was put forth to cover up oxygen mismanagement and, more seriously, the oxygen consumption registers were tampered with. Forty jumbo cylinders were made available by the Mysuru District Hospital by midnight and if they were transported immediately, they would have reached Chamarajanagar by 2 am and could have been put to immediate use. Instead, the cylinders reached at 6 am, the report stated.

Major Recommendations

An official higher than DC rank be appointed to coordinate allotment and distribution of oxygen to district hospitals
Ensure minimum buffer stock of oxygen to last for 24 hours at all hospitals
Postmortem be made must in case of deaths due to shortage of O2 
Balance of oxygen on real-time basis be digitally displayed at all hospitals
Massive training on management of oxygen
Refilled oxygen cylinders carrying vehicles be fitted with GPS


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