New Delhi: The Delhi government on Monday denied before the Delhi high court said that 21 patients who died at north Delhi’s Jaipur Golden hospital on April 23-24 lost their lives due to the lack of medical oxygen, and claimed that 20 deaths were either due to pre-existing conditions and one due to the lack of specific medicines.
The claim was made in an inquiry report submitted before a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.
Twenty-one 21 critically ill patients died overnight between April 23 and 24 at the hospital in Rohini amid a serious oxygen crisis. “The oxygen pressure has dipped as we are running out of stock,” Dr D K Baluja, the medical director of Jaipur Golden Hospital said on April 24. The same day, senior advocate Sachin Datta, appearing for the Jaipur Golden Hospital, told high court that the hospital lost 20 patients due to the shortage of oxygen, and was still facing a deficit in supply.
The Delhi government on April 28 constituted a a committee to ascertain the number of deaths due to shortage of oxygen in the hospitals across the national capital, following a direction by the high court on April 27.
The four-member committee was mandated to examine the case sheets of all such patients, and to determine whether the cause of death was shortage of oxygen or otherwise; in addition to seeking data from all hospitals and nursing homes on such deaths.
In response to the query of the city government, six hospitals and nursing home sent reports on an email id created for this purpose.
Documents reviewed by HT have shown that the committee said that all 21 patients at Jaipur Golden Hospital were sick or critical and suffering from Covid-19. It said that all 21 patients were getting oxygen therapy or ventilation throughout their hospital stay including at the time of resuscitation, and there was no mention of oxygen shortage in any of the case records.
“In view of natural virulent course of the disease and lack of any evidence suggestive of oxygen shortage in the case records, the committee was of the opinion that shortage of oxygen as the cause of death could not be ascertained,” the Delhi government told the high court bench on Monday.
The committee noted that the deaths took place over the course of seven hours. While the first patient died at 10.44pm on April 23, the last death was reported at 5.51am on April 24, the document seen by HT said.
The committee said that many of the patients had one or multiple co-morbidities such as heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and hypertension.
“All these patients were receiving some form of oxygen therapy and/or ventilator support during the hospital stay,” the report said, adding that “all patients were given supplemental oxygen till their resuscitation/death”.
“There was no mention of shortage of oxygen in any of the case sheets and patients were given oxygen supplementation till last, based on the clinical requirement, as per records made available to the committee. …The reason of death in all 21 cases has been uniformly mentioned as “respiratory failure” in the proforma submitted by the hospital,” the report said.
The committee has also said that even though shortage of drug was recorded in the case sheet of one patient. However, shortage of oxygen, if any, was not recorded.
The hospital did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, some relatives of the 21 who died at the hospital labelled the Delhi government’s move a “cover up”.
“This is a complete cover up by the Delhi government. Hospital authorities started making SOS calls to the government regarding the shortage of oxygen but to no avail, “ said Erick Massey, whose mother Delphin Massey (61) died on the same day.