Additional MS transferred; Medical Officer suspended; services of two junior specialists terminated

Following the death of four patients at the Sushruta Trauma Centre here on Tuesday due to lack of oxygen, the Delhi Health Department on Thursday transferred the additional medical superintendent, suspended the medical-officer in-charge of repair and maintenance and terminated the services of two junior specialists deployed to look after the anaesthesia process at the medical centre.

They have all been charged with negligence.

‘Untrained staff’

Giving details of the enquiry committee report submitted on Thursday, Health Minister Dr. A. K. Walia said: “We have taken into account all the circumstances and causes resulting in death of four serious patients in Sushruta Trauma Centre and taken action against the medical personnel in-charge. The deaths occurred around 6-45 a.m. on Tuesday when the hospital’s centralised oxygen supply was disrupted due to the fault of an operator. This happened because an untrained person was operating the system and instead of opening 11 oxygen cylinders he had opened only one.”

According to a hospital source, PES Installations which had installed the Centralised Gas Pipeline System (CGPL) at the hospital had signed two separate contracts for maintenance and providing trained manpower to run the system.

While the maintenance contract had expired last month and both the parties were in talks for a possible renewal, the other contract had expired last year. No payments were made for the manpower contract since April this year, said a hospital source who could not clarify how the company was footing the bill for its staff in the absence of payment from the hospital.

PES had submitted a bill for Rs.2.5 lakh in November for up-gradation of equipment at CGPL after the maintenance contract expired and was waiting for the clearance.

Dr. Walia said PES Installations had been working at the hospital for 14 years and did not have adequate staff or conducted proper maintenance of the oxygen supply system. At the time of the accident, the oxygen supply system was being operated by an unqualified person who wasn’t under any supervision, he added.

“The attendant at the CGPL had only received training to open one cylinder at a time where as per the protocol all cylinders mounted on either side of the wall should be opened to maintain an uninterrupted oxygen supply,” said the hospital source.

Announcing that after the incident, the services of PES Installations have been terminated the Health Minister said they were looking for an alternative. “We are also checking how many other hospitals in Delhi are using this company’s services,” said Dr. Walia, stressing the need for regular and proper maintenance at all hospitals.

Meanwhile, the police have added Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in the case. The two arrested employees of PES Installations have been sent to 14 days judicial custody by a Tis Hazari Court, while the statements of a few doctors have been recorded. The post-mortem of two victims was conducted on Thursday.

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