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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

2-month-old injured in fire at Mumbai’s KEM hospital dies

india Updated: Nov 22, 2019 23:53 IST
Rupsa Chakraborty
Rupsa Chakraborty

MUMBAI Two-month-old Prince Pannelal Rajbhar, who suffered 22% burns in an accident at King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, died on Friday morning.

“The child was in critical condition and kept on maximum ventilator support. His condition deteriorated and he suffered a cardiac arrest at 2.30am. Despite repeated attempts, we couldn’t revive him. He passed away at 2.45am,” said Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean of KEM hospital.

Prince was brought to the hospital, as he was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease and pneumonia in his hometown, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He was kept on oxygen support in the paediatric ICU and ECG nodes were attached to his chest. In the early morning hours of November 7, the nodes of the ECG machine caught fire owing to a short-circuit, burning the left side of his hand and face. On November 11, Prince’s right forearm arm had to be amputated to prevent the infection from spreading further.

Prince’s father, Pannelal, who was at the hospital with his wife, said, “I was sleeping outside when a nurse called me at 3am. We knew this was coming as he hadn’t even opened his eyes since Thursday.”

The family claimed they couldn’t take the child to a specialised hospital for burns like Masina as they are poor. Rajbhar is pursuing an online polytechnic course and worked at a factory in Delhi. He says he lost his job owing to his long absence for the treatment.

The family demanded formation of a medical committee to evaluate the line-of-treatment provided to the infant and a post-mortem investigation by an independent group of experts.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which runs KEM Hospital, has formed a four-member team for the autopsy, which is expected to be performed by Friday night. “The team comprises the head of the forensic medicine from Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, BYL Nair Charitable Hospital and Sir JJ Group of Hospitals. It will also include one cardiovascular pathologist from KEM hospital, as the child was suffering from a congenital heart disease,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, director of major hospitals.

“The child had developed a severe infection. Other than his left hand and ear, he suffered burns on his chest too. He needed specialised treatment, which he didn’t get here,” said Pannelal.

The infant’s condition was very critical on Thursday and doctors had said the next 48 hours would be crucial. Doctors had noticed blood in the endotracheal tube, indicating internal bleeding. “The child was on three cardiac drugs to maintain blood pressure. He required high ventilator settings to maintain oxygen saturation up to 95%. His breathing was not good,” Dr Deshmukh had said.

The family has alleged that lack of fire safety at the intensive care unit (ICU) led to the death of their son. “The ICU in the hospital doesn’t have a fire no-objection certificate. It was not audited by the fire brigade. There was no training given to employees of KEM Hospital as regards to fire safety,” read the letter submitted by Pannelal to the dean of the hospital through MLA Tamil Selvan.

Selvan said the incident would be remembered as an example of hospital negligence. “We have two things to learn from the incident – the rich municipal corporation didn’t have accidental compensation or insurance policy for its patients at civic hospitals. Secondly, the wiring system of the old structures needs to scrutinised annually to save more lives,” said Selvan.