Seven patients died at a hospital in Mumbai with one-and-a-half hour on Saturday, Mumbai Mirror reported. All seven patients died in identical fashion – the indicator attached to the oxygen line would indicate “low oxygen level”, the patients would begin gasping, and die before medical help could be provided, a doctor at Jogeshwari Hospital said.

The hospital has no intensivist. On Saturday night, two new MBBS graduates and two nurses were present in the intensive care unit. However, the MBBS graduates, who were standing in for two senior doctors on sick leave, were also not present when the patients died.

When the oxygen levels began to fall, the nurses alerted a senior doctor posted in the isolation ward. But before he could stabilise the oxygen levels with the help of a technician, the patients had died.

“Apart from fixing the oxygen supply, which is such a basic requirement, this hospital needs more senior doctors,” an unidentified nurse said. She said that ICU beds have been added to admit coronavirus patients without increasing the number of staff.

“No doctor will want to work in a hospital where he has to watch his patients die because of lack of oxygen,” a doctor said.

Medical Superintendent Dr Mane held an emergency meeting at 4.30 am on Sunday to discuss the situation. Nurses said patients in other wards panicked on hearing news of the seven deaths, and had to be calmed down by doctors.

But Dr Mane denied that the deaths were caused due to loss of oxygen supply. She said no medical personnel were present in the ICU when the deaths took place. Dr Mane said an inquiry has been instituted into the matter.

“It is the duty of resident medical officers to manage critical care patients,” she said. “We will find out why they were absent and why no replacement was arranged.”

Mumbai has reported over 36,000 coronavirus cases so far, by far the highest for any city in India. Its hospitals have faced a serious shortage of staff.

Dr Gunjan Chanchalani, chief intensivist at Bhatia Hospital in Mumbai, said on May 27 that since the beginning of May, as the number of Covid-19 cases has shot up, the facility has had to turn patients away – like many other hospitals. “We have beds, but we don’t have people to work there,” he said. Chanchalani added that there has been an increasing number of cases of kidney failure and its complications.

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