‘Lack’ of Oxygen claims life of 49 infants in Farrukhabad hospital

September 04, 2017 07:05 PM

New Delhi, September 4: The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday transferred the district magistrate and two top medical officers of Farrukhabad following the death of 49 children at the district hospital in the past one month.

“The DM, CMO and CMS have been transferred. The CMO did not send report to the state health department regarding the deaths of children,” Trivedi said.

The action came a day after the city magistrate Jainendra Kumar Jain lodged an FIR with the local Kotwali police station, stating that the lack of oxygen supply was suspected behind the deaths of a majority of the children at the government-run Dr Ram Mahohar Lohia Hospital.

However, the district administration and the state health department took conflicting views on the cause of deaths, with the state health department terming the district administration’s report as superficial.

In a joint press conference, principal secretary, health and family welfare, Prashant Trivedi, and principal secretary, information, Avinish Awasthi maintained that the death of 49 children in Farrukhabad hospital did not occur due to oxygen crisis.

A technical team headed by the director-general, health, would visit Farrukhabad on Tuesday to probe into the deaths and submit a report, they said.

 “Action will be taken against officers and doctors on the basis of the report of the technical team,” Trivedi said.

When asked about the report filed by the city magistrate, Farrukhabad, in which he stated that deaths were due to shortage of oxygen, Trivedi said there was a lack of coordination between the district administration and district health department officers.

“The DM, CMO and CMS have been transferred. The CMO did not send report to the state health department regarding the deaths of children,” Trivedi said.

Terming the city magistrate’s report superficial, Trivedi said no action would be taken on the basis of the FIR lodged in the case.

Jainendra Kumar Jain, the city magistrate, in his complaint attributed the deaths to ‘perinatal asphyxia’- a condition in which the child cannot breathe properly and quoted parents of the dead children as complaining that the “doctors neither administered oxygen nor any medicines” during treatment. “It is amply clear that most children died because of lack of oxygen,” he said in his FIR on Sunday.

In all, 30 children died at the hospital’s newly born care unit and 19 died during delivery between July 21 and August 20, reviving memories of a similar tragedy in Gorakhpur where about 100 children died in a week last month at the state-run BRD Medical College, triggering a nationwide outragae.

The Gorakhpur hospital had allegedly run out of oxygen supply because it had not paid the suppliers on time.

Besides Ravindra Kumar, the district magistrate, the chief medical officer (CMO) and the chief medical superintendent (CMS) of the Farrukhabad hospital were also transferred.

The FIR filed on Sunday followed an investigation into the deaths by Jain and the local tehsilder Ajit Kumar Singh. The duo examined hospital documents and spoke to family members of the dead children.

Sources said it was only when the two officials spoke to several of the parents personally and over the telephone that the issue of lack of oxygen came up.

Farrukhabad superintendent of police Dayanand Mishra said a case has been registered over the deaths. “The police are investigating it and further action will be taken as the investigation progresses,” Mishra said.

While the district magistrate admitted lapses on the part of doctors and the hospital, the hospital authorities have blamed most of the deaths on the children’s weight, premature birth, and their delayed arrival at the hospital in a critical condition.

 “Mortality in such children is quite high; often we get children who weigh less than a kilo or two kilos. At times the children are born with complications or there is a delay in referral from primary health centres to the hospital,” Dr Kailash Kumar said.

Dr Archana, who works in the maternity wing of the hospital, blamed the deaths on the “ignorance” of the mothers.

 “They (mothers) are not educated, not aware. If their children have water or blood deficiency, they will not know unless the issue becomes complicated,” she said about the deaths of 19 infants under her watch. “Often they delay the surgery, taking much time in deciding if they should go for it,” she added.

Dr Akhilesh Agarwal, the chief medical superintendent of the hospital, said that at least 24 of the 30 children who died at the unit meant for the newly born were born at private hospitals or some other place. “When they were brought to the hospital, their condition was already grim,” he said.

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