6 patients die at Punjab hospital due to oxygen shortage, CM orders probe

Updated on Apr 25, 2021 12:55 AM IST

The hospital authorities blamed the district administration for the first such incident in Punjab, saying they prioritised government hospitals in ensuring oxygen supply, amid the second Covid-19 wave that has led to a surge in infections and overwhelmed hospitals.

The wave has sparked a shortage of critical supplies such as oxygen and medicines.(PTI Photo )
The wave has sparked a shortage of critical supplies such as oxygen and medicines.(PTI Photo )
ByMandeep Kaur Narula, Hindustan Times, Amritsar

Six critically ill patients died at a private hospital in Punjab’s Amritsar due to a shortage of oxygen on Saturday morning. The hospital authorities blamed the district administration for the first such incident in Punjab, saying they prioritised government hospitals in ensuring oxygen supply, amid the second Covid-19 wave that has led to a surge in infections and overwhelmed hospitals. Chief minister Amarinder Singh ordered the Amritsar deputy commissioner (DC) to initiate a thorough probe into the incident.

The wave has sparked a shortage of critical supplies such as oxygen and medicines. Oxygen is a critical medical intervention against Covid-19, which causes respiratory distress in some cases. The pandemic has accelerated the global demand for it.

“The district administration bought oxygen cylinders from suppliers for government hospitals. It is responsible for the [oxygen] shortage in private hospitals,” said Sunil Devgan, the managing director of Neelkanth Hospital, where the six died. He added they had informed the families of the patients about the limited stock of oxygen. “We urged them to shift their patients to another hospital, but they declined the option.”

Amritsar deputy commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira said they held a meeting with owners of private hospitals on Friday about the oxygen supply and that is when the Neelkanth authorities informed them about the shortage. “We told private hospitals not to admit any critical patient or those who need oxygen if they have shortage as we could arrange only a few cylinders for GMCH [Government Medical College Hospital], where more patients are admitted. Private hospitals are responsible for arranging the required number of [oxygen] cylinders. If Neelkanth Hospital was short of supply, they should have referred the patients to other hospitals,” he said.

“Due to the shortage of [oxygen] cylinders in the district [Amritsar], oxygen supply at Neelkanth Hospital dried up this morning, resulting in the death of six patients on the spot. Of the dead, two were from Gurdaspur district, one from Tarn Taran, and three from Amritsar district. All six patients were in a critical condition when they were admitted to the hospital on Thursday.”

Amritsar civil surgeon Charanjit Singh promised an inquiry and said they will ensure no such incident happens in the future.

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