The Delhi Police told a court on Tuesday that no deaths occurred due to inadequate oxygen supply at the city’s Jaipur Golden Hospital on the intervening night of April 23 and April 24, Live Law reported. However, the hospital administration has submitted that its oxygen supplier did not provide a timely refill of the gas on that day, which led to a “crisis situation”.
Both the submissions were presented to a metropolitan magistrate court on Tuesday in a status report filed by the Delhi Police.
In July, the court had asked the police to file the report after family members of six patients who died of Covid-19 moved a plea seeking punishment for the hospital’s management.
The matter pertains to the death of at least 20 coronavirus patients after the hospital allegedly ran out of oxygen on the night of April 23. When the incident occurred, the hospital’s medical director had said that the shortage of oxygen had put 200 more lives at stake.
The court is considering whether a First Information Report should be filed in the matter as the petitioners have accused the hospital authorities of multiple offences, including murder, criminal intimidation, death by negligence and criminal conspiracy.
The Delhi Police, in the status report, has said that they obtained CCTV footage of the intervening night of April 23 and 24 for their inquiry.
“On scrutiny of the death summaries of all deceased persons, it [is] revealed that no death of any patient [was] caused due to shortage of oxygen,” the Delhi Police’s report said.
The police added that they have sought the opinion of the Delhi Medical Council on allegations of medical negligence against the doctors and hospital staff.
Meanwhile, the hospital said that its oxygen supplier, Inox, did not provide the life-saving gas at the scheduled time – 5.30 pm on April 23 – resulting in a crisis situation. The refill was provided at 11.50 pm on that day, after a gap of 30 hours, the hospital added, according to The Indian Express.
The hospital authorities said that due to the uncertainty of supply they had to resort to “supplement reserve in the form of [oxygen] cylinders”. It also submitted that the average mortality per day before and after the incident was two and three, which increased to 21 within a span of seven to eight hours during that night.
“Resultantly, when this situation ensued, there appeared to be a linkage between the unusually high number of deaths and the common factor i.e. deficient oxygen supply,” the hospital stated.
The Jaipur Golden management said prima facie scrutiny of the reason for the deaths showed that in four cases there was a drop in oxygen pressure at 9.45 pm on April 23, which according to the hospital was noted as an unusual occurrence.
Oxygen crisis during second wave
Several hospitals across the country, including in Delhi, faced shortages of oxygen and other medical supplies during the devastating second wave of the pandemic.
A day before the deaths occurred in the Jaipur Golden Hospital, as many as 25 coronavirus patients, who were in a critical condition, died overnight at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi as authorities scrambled to arrange oxygen supplies.
But on July 20, the Centre told the Parliament that states did not specifically report any deaths due to oxygen shortages. Opposition leaders and health experts derided the Centre for making such a claim, saying that the response was rather bureaucratic and reflected its denial mode.
A week after that, the Centre asked the states and Union territories to share data on deaths due to the shortage of oxygen. The government is likely present the data in the Parliament before the Monsoon Session ends on August 13.