21 patients died of ‘respiratory failure’ and not due to lack of medical oxygen, Delhi govt tells HC

The Delhi government Monday submitted a report before the Delhi High Court stating that the death of 21 patients at north Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital on April 23-24 was not due to lack of medical oxygen.

The government had on April 28 constituted a four-member committee to ascertain the number of deaths due to shortage of oxygen in hospitals across the national capital following a direction by the high court on April 27.

Submitting its inquiry report before a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, the committee stated that almost all the patients were already very sick to critical either from the time of submission or during the course of hospital stay even prior to the evening of April 23.

“In view of the above observations, the committee was of the opinion that all 21 recorded patients were sick/critical and suffering from Covid-19 infection. As per the case records made available to the committee, all the reported patients were getting oxygen therapy/ventilation throughout the hospital stay including the time of resuscitation and there was no mention of any oxygen shortage in any of the case records. In view of the natural virulent course of the disease and lack of any evidence suggestive of oxygen shortage in the case records, the committee was of the opinion that shortage of oxygen as the cause of death could not be ascertained,” the report read.

“Many of the reported patients had one or multiple comorbidities like heart disease, diabetes, DM, hypothyroidism, hypertension,” it added.

The committee was mandated to examine the case sheets of all such patients and to determine whether the cause of death was shortage of oxygen or otherwise, in addition to seeking data from all hospitals and nursing homes on such deaths. In response to the query of the Delhi government, six hospitals and nursing homes sent reports on an email ID created for this purpose.

The committee said that all patients were receiving some form of oxygen therapy or ventilator support during hospital stay. “As per case records, all patients were given supplemental oxygen till resuscitation/death,” the report stated.

The committee also said that there was “no mention of shortage of oxygen” in any of the case sheets and patients were given oxygen supplementation till last, based on the clinical requirement, as per records made available to the committee.

The committee stated that the reason for the deaths in all 21 cases has been uniformly mentioned as “respiratory failure”.

The committee has also said that the shortage of a drug was recorded in the case sheet of one patient. However, shortage of oxygen, if any, was not recorded.

On Monday, the Jaipur Golden Hospital had blamed the Delhi government for the deaths and said it had caused disruption in the supply chain. It told the high court that an allocation order for 3.6 metric tonnes of oxygen was issued on April 22, but on April 23, oxygen was received 10-15 minutes late after several SOS calls. It said that normally it is in contact with the supplier, INOX, but now the communication is only between the state and the supplier.