An investigation committee has cleared a hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra city, whose owner was purportedly caught on a video earlier this month saying that the facility cut off oxygen supply for patients for five minutes in a mock drill in April, NDTV reported on Friday.
The Uttar Pradesh government had ordered an inquiry into the incident after the video triggered massive outrage.
The committee of experts found that 16 patients died at the Paras Hospital on April 26, the day of the mock drill, according to The Indian Express. However, they claimed that these patients were already in critical condition or had comorbidities and did not die because of the mock drill.
“The death audit committee found during its probe that all patients had been treated as per Covid protocol and the details of their oxygen status and supply have been listed,” the report said, according to The Indian Express. “It also found that the oxygen supply of any patient was not interrupted. Patients who died had comorbidities and (died) because of their critical condition. The hospital had been given adequate oxygen supply.”
The committee’s report quoted hospital owner Arinjay Jain as saying that no mock drill took place at the hospital. “The rumour is misleading, otherwise there would have been 22 deaths at 7 am on April 26,” the committee said, quoting Jain, according to NDTV.
However, in the video which was circulated on social media earlier this month, Jain was heard saying that the mock drill was done on April 26 to check who would survive if the hospital’s oxygen supply ran out. Scroll.in has not independently verified the authenticity of the video.
At one point in video, he said that 22 patients “turned blue” and gasped for breath when their oxygen supply was interrupted.
In April, Uttar Pradesh and several other states were grappling with acute shortages of oxygen during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report of the committee investigating the incident said that Paras Hospital received 149 oxygen cylinders and 20 in reserve on April 25, and 121 cylinders with 15 in reserve the next day, according to NDTV. The hospital’s owner told the committee the stock was enough for the patients.
“The hospital had oxygen, but there were issues with future supply,” Jain told the committee, according to the news channel. “Oxygen assessment was the mock drill. We monitored symptoms of hypoxia and oxygen saturation levels to assess how to function if oxygen supply is limited. We conducted a bedside analysis of every patient and found 22 of the admitted patients to be in very serious condition.”
The hospital had been sealed on June 8. Its owner was booked under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant, causing obstruction and injury) for spreading fake information. This was done after the hospital had discharged patients due to lack of oxygen though there was enough supply, the inquiry said, according to The Indian Express.