Agra's Shri Paras Hospital, which was sealed after a purported video clip emerged of its owner talking about cutting off the oxygen supply to COVID-19 patients for five minutes as a 'mock drill', has been given a clean chit.
Why is this relevant?
In the 28 April video, the owner of the hospital, Dr Arinjay Jain, had allegedly claimed that there was an acute oxygen shortage at the hospital and a mock drill was conducted to segregate the critically ill patients. "After shutting off the oxygen supply for five minutes, bodies of 22 patients started turning blue," Jain had said, adding that the families of the remaining 74 COVID-19 patients were asked to arrange for oxygen cylinders.
Sixteen people had died in the hospital between 26 and 27 April.
After the incident came to light, the hospital was sealed and two panels were formed to conduct the enquiry: a four-member death audit committee and a two-member magisterial committee.
On 8 June, a case was also filed against Jain under the Disaster Management Act for spreading "false rumours" about oxygen shortage.
What did the enquiry committee report say?
On Friday night, District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh released a report based on the findings of the two panels. The three members of the committee " Dr Trilok Chandra Pipal, head of the anaesthesia department; Dr Balvir Singh, head of medicine, and Dr Richa Gupta from the forensic department " are from the SN Medical College while Additional Chief Medical Officer, Agra, Dr PK Sharma is the fourth member.
Here are four key highlights of the report:
No proof of a 'mock drill'
The enquiry report submitted by the panel of doctors to the district authorities said there was no proof of a 'mock drill' during which oxygen supply was cut off for five minutes due to which 22 patients allegedly died at the hospital.
Twenty-two patients were in critical condition
Giving a clean chit to the hospital, the report said the facility monitored symptoms of hypoxia and oxygen saturation levels of patients so that treatment could be done with limited oxygen availability.
A bedside analysis of every patient was done, and it was found that 22 patients were in critical condition, it added.
According to a report in The Print, the panel said 16 patients died at the hospital between 26 and 27 April, of which seven were coronavirus positive, seven were suspected COVID-19 cases and two were COVID-negative.
Cause of death was severe disease and comorbidities
The panel's report also said that the cause of death was severe disease and comorbidities. Fourteen of the 16 patients were found to have some comorbidity while the reports of the two remaining patients' reports showed high HRCT severity scores (infection in the chest) and inflammatory indicators, a report in NDTV quoted the committee as saying.
All patients were treated as per COVID-19 protocols and after checking evidence it was found that oxygen supply to none of the patients was cut off, the committee said.
This panel's finding on the cause of death is similar to what Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh had said on said 8 June.
Singh had claimed that no death had occurred due to lack of oxygen on the day the alleged video was recorded.
No shortage of oxygen at the hospital
According to a report in The Indian Express, the panel said that the hospital had been given an adequate oxygen supply. The investigating officer found that the hospital was provided 149 oxygen cylinders with 20 in reserve on 25 April and 121 cylinders with 15 in reserve on 26 April, said the NDTV report. The hospital's owner told the committee the stock was enough for the patients.
What's next in the case?
The hospital owner was quoted as saying in the committee's report that nobody's oxygen supply had been cut off and that it is 'completely untrue" that patients died. "The rumour is misleading, otherwise there would have been 22 deaths at 7 am on 26 April," Jain told the committee.
According to The Indian Express report, the officials have found the >hospital guilty of spreading fake information at a time when the second COVID-19 wave was at its peak.
The probe also found that the hospital discharged patients citing lack of oxygen even when there was adequate supply and >action will be taken under relevant sections of the Epidemic Act.
Since Jain has indicated that his statements in the video were misinterpreted, the panel report said that the >doctor's counter-allegations will be probed separately by the police along with the role of a media person in the case.
With inputs from PTI