Thirteen deaths at Chengalpattu GH in TN: Officials deny oxygen shortage

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Chennai, May 5 (PTI) As many as 13 people died at a Government Hospital near here in a span of 24 hours, with their relatives alleging shortage of oxygen, a charge stoutly denied by officials on Wednesday.

The death of the 13, aged 40 to 85, in quick succession at the Chengalpattu Government Medical College Hospital was not due to shortfall of the lifesaving medical oxygen, top officials claimed.

The overnight fatalities triggered panic among the people in the area and outrage among the relatives of the deceased who alleged that a shortage of oxygen had led to the deaths.

Chengalpattu district collector A John Louis, who reviewed the situation on Tuesday night, denied that the deaths were due to oxygen shortage.

'I was there at the field the whole night monitoring the situation. Oxygen supply (for the patients) was not interrupted,' Louis told reporters on Wednesday.

He said a probe will be taken up by the director of medical education into 'technical issues.' Of the deceased, only one patient was Covid positive while others tested negative but had viral pneumonia and comorbidities, hospital Dean Dr J Muthukumaran said.

'While six had comorbidities, seven patients who came in with complications also died within 24 hours, as they didn't respond to treatment,' he told PTI.

The staff on duty noticed oxygen levels dropping in some patients and immediately took steps to stabilise them, he said.

'We are thankful to the district collector who responded to our plea for replenishment of oxygen supplies last night and immediately arranged for a tanker of oxygen,' he said.

For the present the hospital has three days' stock of oxygen and the higher officials have assured more supplies soon, he added.

The GH has 325 beds with oxygen lines.

'Of the 447 patients, 256 were Coronavirus positive while 191 were suspected to be infected with the virus.

Yesterday, 309 patients were put on oxygen support,' the collector said.

Owing to the increase in the number of infected patients, the GH had to provide 4.5 kl oxygen to the patients yesterday alone as against the daily intake of 2.9 kl.

'The hospital had adequate (oxygen) stock...Yesterday they had 1.4 kl in the morning and by evening 5 kl oxygen was refilled. The district administration responded to the request for refill by managing to divert the supplies from three hospitals besides from the government godown,' Louis said.

'Oxygen supply was not interrupted at the hospital. I was there on the field last night and personally monitored the situation,' he said.

Louis deputed a deputy collector to continuously monitor the beds and oxygen supply at the GH and shift the severe cases to the COVID Care Centres.

'Compared to the situation in March, the district is now witnessing a five time increase in the number of infections. We will rise to the occasion if any issues arise,' he added. PTI JSP SA BN BALA BN BALA