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Farrukhabad hospital deaths: Health department, district officials lock horns over oxygen crisis

Oxygen crisis has returned to haunt the UP health and family welfare department with the death of 49 children at the special newborn care unit (SMCU) of Farrukhabad district hospital in the past one month.

lucknow Updated: Sep 05, 2017 14:47 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Farrukhabad hospital deaths,Oxygen supply,Special newborn care unit
(HT Photo)

Days after Gorakhpur tragedy, oxygen crisis has returned to haunt the UP health and family welfare department with the death of 49 children at the special newborn care unit (SMCU) of Farrukhabad district hospital in the past one month.

Between August 9 and 11, 33 children had died at Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur due to disruption in oxygen supply.

Though the high-level committee headed by chief secretary Rajive Kumar ruled out oxygen crisis as a reason for the deaths but FIRs were lodged against oxygen supplier Pushpa Sales Pvt Ltd as well as medical college principal Dr Rajiv Mishra for not clearing the bills of the company.

In Farrukhabad case too, the committee constituted by the then district magistrate Ravindra Kumar to probe into the deaths blamed oxygen crisis for the deaths of children.

On the basis of the report, the DM ordered FIRs against the chief medical officer (CMO), chief medical superintendent (CMS) and a few doctors of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital under Sections 176, 188 and 304 of the IPC.

In his complaint to the police, city magistrate, Farrukhabad, Jainendra Kumar Jain said the majority of deaths were due to perinatal asphyxia. “When contacted over the phone, mothers of the children as well as the family members said the doctors did not provide oxygen to their babies on time. Even medicines were not given to the children,” he said.

“It is clear that the children died due to short supply of oxygen. The doctors were aware of the fact that children would die due to oxygen crisis but failed to save their lives,” Jain added.

He recommended strict legal action against the errant medical officers and doctors.

However, the state government reacted the same way it did in Gorakhpur case.

The state health and family welfare department rejected the report of the Farrukhabad DM blaming oxygen crisis for the deaths.

Terming the report as superficial, principal secretary, health and family welfare, Prashant Trivedi on Monday said instead of visiting the spot, conducting proper investigation and meeting the parents of the deceased, members of the committee constituted by the DM talked to parents over the phone.

Trivedi said according to experts there were many reasons for perinatal asphyxia.

“Though the DM has ordered lodging of FIRs, no action will be taken against the accused,” he said.

“There was no crisis of oxygen in the hospital. Media is creating a hype over the issue. A technical team headed by the director-general, health, will visit Farrukhabad hospital to probe into the deaths. Action will be taken against the culprits on the basis of the report submitted by the committee,” he said.

Trivedi said there was a lack of coordination between the district administration and health department officials. “The CMO did not alert senior health department officers that the DM had rejected his report on deaths, ordered magisterial inquiry and FIRs in the case. The state government has decided to transfer the DM, CMO and CMS,” he said.

Read more| Farrukhabad child deaths: Doctors go on mass leave to protest FIR against colleagues

He said from July 20 to August 21, 468 babies were delivered at the district women hospital, Farrukhabad. “There were 19 stillbirths. Out of remaining 449 babies, 66 were critical and were shifted to newborn care unit. As many as 66 recovered while 6 died. A total of 145 children referred by health centres were admitted to the district hospital and 121 of them returned home,” he said.

After the death of children at BRD Medical College, the Gorakhpur DM had said in his report that the college administration was aware of the impending oxygen crisis but did not alert senior officers.

“The clerks did not maintain the log book of oxygen supply. The supplier Pushpa Sales stopped oxygen supply due to delay in the payment of outstanding dues to the tune of Rs 69 lakh,” the report said.

Ruling out oxygen crisis at the medical college, the government had said three-tier oxygen supply system had been activated in the wards – liquid oxygen supply, cylinder oxygen supply and artificial manual breathing unit (AMBU) bags.

In Farrukhabad case, the DM’s report has turned out to be bone of contention between the Health Department and district administration. The report of the technical team may clear the cloud.

First Published: Sep 05, 2017 14:47 IST