Two days after oxygen supply in the ICU failed for 12 minutes and claimed the lives of four patients — a fifth man died the next day — at the government-run Sushruta Trauma Centre, Delhi Health Minister A K Walia announced disciplinary action against four members of the hospital’s ICU staff and administration, saying they had “failed in their duty”.
Services of Dr Teena Khurana and Dr Richa Gupta, junior specialists in charge of the ICU, were terminated and the medical officer in charge of repairs and maintenance, Dr Anshuman, was suspended.
Dr Vikas Rampal, additional medical superintendent of the hospital and in-charge of the trauma centre, will be transferred after completion of a probe into the incident.
These decisions were taken after a three-member inquiry committee led by special secretary (health) S B Shashank submitted its report on Thursday.
Observing that the hospital staff “failed to fulfill their duty”, Walia said: “It is very clear that there were warnings since the oxygen pressure had gone down, twice in the operation theatre and ICU, on the day of the incident and the day before that. The anaesthetists and hospital administration should have been alert enough to investigate this and take remedial steps.”
The inquiry panel, sources said, recommended immediate cancellation of the contract with PES Installations Pvt Ltd, even suggesting that it be blacklisted.
“There was a clear trust deficit between the administration and the private company despite the fact that their contract dates back to 1996, and they had been running the oxygen supply system since 1998. Both sides were equally responsible, and we found that the administration was trying to shy away from its responsibility,” a member of the committee said.
According to the member, the committee felt there was need to find out if the company had a similar contract with any other government hospital, and whether that arrangement should be continued.
An FIR was filed against the company by the hospital on Tuesday evening. The helper on duty at the time of the incident and a supervisor were arrested on Wednesday.
Walia said a separate committee had been set up to investigate oxygen supply systems in ICUs of all hospitals and recommend guidelines, especially for those outsourcing the service. “Whether these are outsourced or are our own services, we need to ensure basic minimum standards in our ICUs,” he said.
The inquiry committee found that employees of the private contractor were running one oxygen cylinder instead of the 11 or 10.