Dr. K. G. R. Mallan, Superintendent of the hospital has been removed from the post and the head nurse in the ICCU, Accamma Joseph, has been suspended pending inquiry.

A preliminary inquiry by the medical advisor P. G. R. Pillai and medical director Mohan P. Sam has found that the death of the patients on July 15 and 17 at Cooperative Medical College (CMC), Kalamassery, here had not occurred due to lack of oxygen as has been reported in a section of the media.

However, reports say the only person who was incharge of changing oxygen cylinders was missing from duty. The gas plant technician Rajesh was suspended on Friday after the inquiry.

Dr. K. G. R. Mallan, Superintendent of the hospital has been removed from the post and the head nurse in the ICCU, Accamma Joseph, has been suspended pending inquiry. The deputy superintendent Jacob K. Jacob will take charge as superintendent

The three patients who died were chronic cases of tuberculosis referred from the General Hospital, said Dr. Pillai. Two of them were with multiple diseases while the third one was a case which had developed resistant TB.

However, a detailed inquiry will be conducted by a three-member team convened by Jills George, professor and head of the General Medicine department. Dr. Kanakambaram, head of the Department of Surgery and Dr. Ajitha Kumari, head of the Department of Gynaecology will be members of the team.

Dr. Pillai said that a State-level team involving doctors from other medical colleges and the special officer at Cooperative Academy of Professional Education will also be conducting an inquiry. The principal of the College, R. Gireeshan, said that a newly formed nurses association had given the complaint to the Chief Minister, when the medical director and the principal were available in the college when the patients were declared dead.

The representative of the CAPE Registered Nurses Association told The Hindu that the Association had complained to the medical superintendent in writing regarding the lack of continuous oxygen supply at least 10 times. But nothing had happened in spite of the complaints, said the representative. “There have been times when there was no oxygen for about an hour,” the representative said.

“We took the matter to the Chief Minister so that some action would be taken,” the Association representative added.

Doctors working in the hospital say that many aspects of the medical college need to be reviewed, especially in the administration of the college. The gas plant technician has no replacement, for example. A person needs to be trained in managing the oxygen cylinders and the person concerned was an attendant who was trained by the gas plant operators.

While the case of the patients’ death may not be because of lack of oxygen supply, the issues of proper management remain, said a doctor connected with the doctors' association in the college.

Activists of the Democartic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and Youth Congress staged protests against the alleged death of three patients admitted to the intensive care unit following lack of oxygen supply.

DYFI and Youth Congress workers barged into the administrative office and shouted slogans against the management for their alleged failure in replacing the empty cylinders supplying oxygen to the patients.

A. M. Yousuf, former CPI (M) MLA, held the hospital management responsible for the death of the patients. He said that all those who were responsible for the incident should be punished for their negligence.

Activists of the DYFI and Youth Congress gheraoed senior officials of the hospital and demanded the suspension of hospital staff responsible for the death of the three patients.

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