Dr RK Himthani was among those who died at the hospital
Dr RK Himthani was among those who died at the hospital

Senior doctor among 12 dead after Delhi's Batra hospital runs out of oxygen

According to the hospital, it had raised an alarm with all the government-appointed officials at 7 am after not receiving its allocated liquid medical oxygen. Despite this, the hospital did not receive its oxygen supply and completely ran out of liquid oxygen at 12:15 pm on Saturday.
By Anonna Dutt, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 02, 2021 03:37 AM IST

Twelve Covid patients including a senior doctor admitted to the intensive care unit of south Delhi’s Batra hospital died on Saturday due to an 80-minute disruption in oxygen supply, a top official of the hospital said, underlining that the next 24-48 hours are critical for some more patients whose condition deteriorated due to the disruption.

Eight patients including senior consultant Dr RK Himthani (head of the hospital’s gastroenterology department died within minutes of the hospital running out of cylinders. Dr Sudhanshu Bankata, executive director of the hospital, had then expressed fears that the death toll could increase.

“And, it (deaths) is not going to stop at eight. Once the patient’s condition deteriorates then you cannot salvage that patient. There is a ripple effect, there would be many who must have destabilised by now and the number of deaths will certainly go up,” said Dr Bankata said.

By Saturday evening, Dr Bankata confirmed four more deaths and cautioned that some more patients were still critical.

For some other patients, he said, the next 24-48 hours are going to be critical.

“We have lost lives,” the hospital’s executive director had informed the Delhi high court a few hours earlier when it was hearing petitions on shortage of oxygen supply in the national capital.

The judge said the issue should have been raised with Rahul Mehra, who is representing the Delhi government in the high court, before the proceedings began. The court also said that the hospital should learn a lesson and maybe set up its own oxygen plants.

According to the hospital, it had raised an alarm with all the government-appointed officials at 7 am after not receiving its allocated liquid medical oxygen. Despite this, the hospital did not receive its oxygen supply and completely ran out of liquid oxygen at 12:15 pm on Saturday.

“We have been allocated less quantity of oxygen than is needed, so we are constantly running around to get oxygen every day. We have also been linked to two suppliers both of whom do not deliver the oxygen on time. And, the Delhi government tanker that was on SOS duty reached the hospital only at 1:35 pm despite having been informed at 7 am,” said Dr Bankata.

The hospital has currently received 1,000 litres of oxygen from the Delhi government’s SOS tanker, “which is only going to last for another 1.5 hours,” said Dr Bankata.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal described the news of more patients dying due to shortage of oxygen as “very painful”.

“These lives could have been saved by giving oxygen on time,” he said in a tweet, reiterating his government’s demand for medical oxygen.

“Delhi should get its quota of oxygen. We can’t see our people dying like this any more. Delhi needs 976 MT of oxygen and yesterday received only 312 MT. How will Delhi breathe with inadequate oxygen”.

On Friday, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to consider increasing Delhi’s medical oxygen quota from the current 490MT and ensure that supply reaches the Capital. The allotted 490MT, the bench said, has not reached the Capital even once because of logistical constraints.

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