18 patients die in Chennai hospital

While the hospital says the loss of power led to the death of those on ventilator support and no help had come, government blames the hospital and orders a probe.

December 04, 2015 01:17 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 10:52 am IST - CHENNAI:

Eighteen patients died between December 2 and 3 at the MIOT International in Manapakkam in Chennai, after the hospital was flooded owing to the Adyar breaching its banks, tearing through the hospital’s compound wall and damaging its power units.

While the managing director of the hospital, Prithvi Mohandas, said the loss of power led to the death of those on ventilator support and no help had come, a statement from the State health department said that following a distress call on December 3, oxygen cylinders had been provided, but that an inspection revealed that “the hospital had no standby generators to back up those that were inundated and that the flooding was not of an order requiring boats”.

Chairman of MIOT, PVA Mohandas told The Hindu that the hospital was entirely cut off from the rest of the city. “We could not inform relatives as we did not want a riot-like situation in the hospital where there was no food and the water levels were rising. The phone lines were also down.”

On Friday, the government laid the blame at the hospital’s doors. Late in the night, the government ordered a probe.

Meanwhile in a press conference on Friday, Chief Secretary K. Gnanadesikan placed the blame entirely on the hospital.

“You all know MIOT hospital is located in a low-lying area. It’s the responsibility of a big hospital like MIOT to have adequate power supply, power generator. The management had completely abandoned the patients, and the law will now take its own course. The State government took extraordinary efforts with this; we have walked the extra mile.”

Bodies of 14 of the patients – nine men and five women – were brought to the Government Royapettah Hospital for post-mortem from Thursday night onwards, while the other four bodies were sent home directly.

On Friday, visits showed that chaos reigned as both hospitals were filled with grieving and angry relatives who alleged that they had received no communication from MIOT about the death of their loved ones.

Several only found out about the disaster when the news was broadcast on television channels on Friday morning. Others were still looking for their relatives, shunting from hospital to hospital for hours.

Nobody was at Royapettah Hospital to represent MIOT as of Friday evening. Director of Medical Education S. Geethalakshmi told reporters there that “they had received 14 bodies from MIOT hospital and it had told the authorities that most of the patients had been in a critical condition and had died of natural causes.”

Hospital administrators said they had created a special help desk for relatives to identify their kin.

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