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Oxygen mock drill death case: UP hospital gets clean chit

Lucknow: On April 27, the owner of a private hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra was allegedly heard boasting about shutting off oxygen for five minutes during a ‘mock drill’ amid the Covid crisis. After the outrage, the UP government had ordered an inquiry into the incident at Agra’s Shree Paras Hospital.

According to a report by the investigators, none of the 16 deaths at the hospital were related to the ‘mock drill’. They stated that all of the patients died because they were critically ill or suffered from severe comorbidities. The committee concluded that 14 of the 16 patients had some type of comorbidity. The two remaining patients’ reports revealed high HRCT severity scores (infection in the chest) and inflammatory signs. The patients were treated in accordance with the Covid protocols, and after verification, it was determined that no oxygen supply was cut off to any patients, according to the committee. The report said that the cause of death was advanced disease and comorbidities. In the report, the complaints by families of at least seven patients out of the 16 who died are not included.

The investigating officer found that, according to the committee’s report, the hospital provided oxygen cylinders to 149 patients on April 25 with 20 in reserve and 121 patients with 15 in reserve on April 26. The committee quoted the hospital owner Arinjay Jain as having said the oxygen supply was adequate for the patients admitted to the hospital.

‘It is completely untrue that patients died. No mock drill was conducted after cutting off the oxygen supply. Nobody’s oxygen supply was cut off and there is no evidence of this. The rumor is misleading, otherwise, there would have been 22 deaths at 7 am on April 26,’ the committee said in the report, quoting Mr. Jain.

‘The hospital had oxygen, but there were issues with future supply. Oxygen assessment was the mock drill. We monitored symptoms of hypoxia and oxygen saturation levels to assess how to function if the oxygen supply is limited. We conducted a bedside analysis of every patient and found 22 of the admitted patients to be in very serious condition,’ Mr. Jain told the committee.

The committee is made up of four members: Dr. Trilok Chandra Pipal of the anesthesia department, Dr. Balvir Singh of the medicine department, and Dr. Richa Gupta of the forensic department. The fourth member is Dr. PK Sharma, Additional Chief Medical Officer, Agra.

Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh said on June 8 that there was no death caused by a lack of oxygen on the day the alleged video was recorded. However, he ordered a case against the hospital to be filed under the Epidemic Diseases Act and sealed the facility.

When the audio clip circulated widely, Mr. Jain remarked that his statements were misinterpreted. ‘We too had received instructions from the administration for judicious and rational use of oxygen. In the third week of April, we categorized our patients into those who were on high flow and those on low flow (of oxygen),’ Mr Jain said on June 8


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