Odisha Police arrest 4 SUM Hospital officials for lapses

Safety measures and deficiencies in patient care called to question after fire mishap.

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:59 am IST

Published - October 18, 2016 10:40 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visit patients at AIIMS Hospital in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday after they were shifted from the SUM Hospital. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visit patients at AIIMS Hospital in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday after they were shifted from the SUM Hospital. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

A day after the fire mishap in the city-based SUM Hospital claimed 20 lives and left 100 others injured, Odisha police on Tuesday arrested four officials of the hospital.

The arrested officials were Medical Superintendent Pusparaj Samantsinhar, Electrical Maintenance Engineer Amulya Sahoo, Fire Safety Officer Santosh Das and Junior Engineer (Electrical) Malay Sahoo.

The arrests were made on basis of two separate cases registered against hospital authorities for alleged deficiencies in fire safety measures and lapses in patient care.

“In 2013, a fire safety audit was conducted at the SUM Hospital. Subsequently, hospital authorities were asked to comply with fire safety norms on ten different points. Upon an inspection of the mishap site, it was found that the majority of the suggestions had not been complied with,” said Director General of Police (Fire Service) Binay Behera.

Central Range Fire Officer B. B. Das filed a complaint at the Khandagiri Police Station here for non-adherence to fire safety measures.

The Directorate of Medical Education and Training, Odisha, filed another complaint against the SUM Hospital authorities for the violation of different norms.

Guidelines violated “The SUM Hospital authorities were found to have violated guidelines issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department from time to time. Besides, fire safety measures were not put in place and patient evacuation was not carried out properly,” said Odisha’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak.

The Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) A. B. Ota, who was assigned to probe the circumstances under which the tragedy occurred, also began his investigation. Mr. Ota said the hospital authorities will be asked to present their side during the course of the enquiry.

The Odisha Human Rights Commission, which took suo motu cognisance of the death of 20 persons in the fire mishap, asked State Home Secretary and DG (Fire Service) to furnish a report about the tragedy within three weeks.

The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda, is scheduled to meet the survivors of the fire mishap at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, on Wednesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked Mr. Nadda to supervise the treatment of persons injured in the fire.

“An accident” Meanwhile, the SUM Hospital authorities termed the fire mishap as an accident and suspended four employees, including the hospital manager and the fire officer.

Speaking to media persons here, Amit Banarjee, Vice Chancellor of the SOA University, which governs the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, said, “The fire incident in the hospital was an accident. We had taken prompt action to douse the fire and evacuate patients. The casualty figures would have been much higher, had there been lapses in the shifting of patients.”

The hospital management announced a payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased person, and undertook to bear the treatment costs for the injured. Mr. Banarjee said the hospital management would extend all cooperation to the inquiries ordered on the mishap.

As many as 105 persons were admitted to nine different hospitals in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack following the mishap. The State government has set up a cell to the coordinate treatment of injured patients.

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