Twelve patients, including a doctor, died without oxygen at a hospital in south Delhi on Saturday as multiple hospitals in the national capital raised alarm bells over dwindling stocks of the life-saving gas.
Sudhanshu Bankata, executive director of Batra Hospital, said the patients died due to “oxygen shortage and the hospital not receiving oxygen on time”.
“We ran out of LMO (liquid medical oxygen) at 12:15 p.m. and we received LMO supply at 1:35 p.m. In between we had some oxygen cylinders, but they cannot support ventilators. Eight people died either due to shortage of oxygen or not receiving oxygen on time,” Dr. Bankata said. Six of the eight patients were admitted in the intensive care unit, he said.
“Four more persons died later from complications due to lack of oxygen, taking the death toll to 12,” he said. He said that lack of oxygen could lead to complications for the patients in future too. “Once the patient destabilises, death can happen later also,” he added.
Dr. Bankata made a desperate appeal at 12:15 p.m. that the oxygen situation was “extremely critical” and that the hospital was not being able to “support ventilated patients”.
The doctor who died was identified as R.K. Himthani, head of the department of gastroenterology at the same hospital.
“We read on Twitter that there is an oxygen shortage and we phoned the hospital in the morning. They said his condition is not that good and asked us to come. We had two oxygen cylinders at home and we took them to the hospital,” said Asha, whose husband Sanjay Seth, 57, died in the afternoon.
“If they had warned us, we would have reached 10 minutes before,” another family member said.
“What is the use in talking about it? Did the situation (of oxygen) improve in the past two weeks,” asked Amit, whose relative Prakash Dutt, 62, also died.
The incident comes less than a fortnight after 20 COVID-19 patients died without oxygen at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the national capital.
On Saturday, several hospitals across the city put out SOS messages over acute oxygen shortage. Kin of patients could be seen rushing oxygen cylinders to some of the smaller hospitals.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha claimed on Twitter that oxygen had reached Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the evening.
“Let us pray that oxygen supplies to Delhi improve, and what is committed by Centre is actually delivered — in time,” Mr. Chadha said in a tweet.
He also claimed that an oxygen tanker had been sent to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital.
“Our cryogenic tanker carrying 2 metric tonne of LMO for GTB [Guru Tegh Bahadur] Hospital is about to reach the hospital premises. We will spare no effort to secure lives of Delhiites, despite deprivation of oxygen to the NCT of Delhi,” he said.