Videos emerging from the hospital showed several patients lying lifeless on their beds even as the hospital staff struggled to install half-filled oxygen cylinders beside patients who were hyperventilating.
Eleven Covid-19 patients died at SVRR government general hospital in Tirupati on Thursday evening after a breakdown in oxygen supply, resulting in shortage. At least 13 patients who are being treated in the ICU ward currently are said to be critical.
Chaos and panic ensued when patients were gasping for breath as their relatives rushed inside the ICU wards with Ambu bags, hand fans to revive them. Videos emerging from the hospital showed several patients lying lifeless on their beds even as the hospital staff struggled to install half-filled oxygen cylinders beside patients who were hyperventilating. Attendants claim patients were left without oxygen for nearly 45 minutes.
“There is no oxygen, no beds, no injections. My mother has been struggling to breathe since last 30 minutes, but no hospital staff is helping us,” a patient’s son said.
The state government however has claimed that there was a disruption in oxygen supply only for five to ten minutes. Chittoor District Collector M. Harinarayanan said a bigger tragedy was averted due to the alertness shown by doctors on duty.
“There was a drop in oxygen pressure but we immediately set up bulk oxygen cylinders to avert a disaster. It’s unfortunate that 11 people lost their lives.”
News18 has learnt that an oxygen tanker from Chennai reached the hospital nearly after a delay of 2 hours, but by then, they were almost out of their buffer stock. The refilling process, which took additional time, led to a temporary disruption in oxygen flow. As a result, critical patients battled for life due to low pressure in the pipelines. Oxygen supply was restored to full capacity only after a few hours.
Expressing shock at the death of 11 patients, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Reddy has ordered a high-level probe into the matter and asked his officials to take stock of oxygen supply at different hospitals.
NOT THE FIRST INCIDENT
This is the third such incident that has come to light from Andhra Pradesh. Earlier this month, there have been 16 deaths at two different hospitals due to oxygen shortage. Eleven patients died at Anantapur Sarvajana Government hospital due to ‘temporary breakdown in oxygen supply’, while in Kurnool, 5 people lost their lives at a private hospital. Officials had attributed the deaths to Covid-19 related complications and not negligence on part of the hospital staff
The TDP said Jagan Reddy has blood on his hands and the incident was criminal negligence on behalf of the state government.
TDP spokesperson Pattabhi Ram said: “Another act of criminal negligence has cost many lives in Ruia hospital in Tirupati which is the biggest hospital in Rayalseema region. Even after so many incidents, Jagan Reddy hasn’t woken up.”
Andhra BJP president Somu Veeraju said deaths due to oxygen shortage were “a big failure on part of the government. Jagan has not taken any steps to provide medical resources to hospitals”.