Government announces Rs.5 lakh ex gratia each to kin of deceased

The Rajasthan government on Sunday suspended a drug inspector and an employee of the government Umaid Hospital in Jodhpur, where 13 women have died of excessive bleeding during childbirth in the past two weeks.

It announced an ex gratia of Rs.5 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased, besides blacklisting two pharmaceutical and surgical equipment firms.

The decisions were taken at a high-level meeting convened at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's residence here on Saturday. Mr. Gehlot also announced an inquiry into the deaths by the Jodhpur Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar Jain, who has been asked to submit his report within the next 15 days.

Mr. Gehlot flew into Jodhpur on Sunday afternoon to meet the four pregnant women at Umaid Hospital, where their condition was stated to be critical. Another woman in the hospital was shifted to the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital. The death of 13 women is suspected to have been caused by the injection of contaminated intravenous fluid.

“Contaminated IV fluid”

While drug inspector Dinesh Taneja and a storekeeper of the Umaid Hospital have been suspended , a criminal case has been registered under the IPC Section 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) against the Indore-based Parental Surgical India Private Limited and its local distributor for allegedly supplying contaminated IV fluid.

According to the official sources here, the Parents Surgical and the Anshul Pharmaceuticals have also been blacklisted for any further supply of equipment and medicine to the government hospitals in the State. Two doctors of Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh Hospital have arrived in Jodhpur to look into the causes of deaths.

The report of the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kolkata, on the IV fluid and bottles is likely to be received by the time the Divisional Commissioner submits his report. Investigation into the First Information Report lodged by Umaid Hospital Superintendent Narendra Chhangani has been handed over to an Additional Superintendent of Police.

While the hospital administration has closed the main operation theatre and labour room for fumigation, police seized about 10,000 bottles of the IV fluid during a raid in Jodhpur and sent samples to the Forensic Science Laboratory. The authorities are reportedly trying to locate the entire stock and remove it from circulation.

Mr. Gehlot had discussions with the senior district officers and elected representatives for more than half-an-hour and left straight for the Umaid Hospital and the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital. He later went to the residence of one of the victims, Bhavna Dharu, to condole her death.

Mr. Gehlot also met the relatives of a nine-year-old boy, Jitendra Chauhan, who died at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital reportedly after being injected with the IV fluid following his surgery for removal of appendix. When Jitendra's parents alleged that their son died due to the negligence of doctors and nursing staff, Mr. Gehlot assured them of a probe into the case.