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The report by a five-member panel on Gorakhpur tragedy in BRD Medical College was silent on the cause of the deaths of over 60 children. Photo: PTI
The report by a five-member panel on Gorakhpur tragedy in BRD Medical College was silent on the cause of the deaths of over 60 children. Photo: PTI

Gorakhpur tragedy: Inquiry blames firm for disrupting oxygen supply to hospital

Gorakhpur district administration inquiry report blames Lucknow-based oxygen supplier Pushpa Sale for disrupting oxygen supply to BRD Medical College

Lucknow, Gorakhpur: An inquiry by the Gorakhpur district administration has held a Lucknow-based firm responsible for disrupting oxygen supply to BRD Medical College. The inquiry, into the supply of oxygen to the hospital on 10 August when 23 children died, also alleged that there was “financial anomaly" and overwriting in the log books.

The five-member panel said Dr Satish Kumar, the head of department of anaesthesia, was “prima facie guilty of not discharging his duties". It also named Gajanan Jaiswal, the chief pharmacist, and Dr Rajiv Mishra, the principal of the medical college.

The report was silent on the cause of the deaths and who was responsible. However, chief medical officer Dr Ravindra Kumar, part of the panel, told PTI that the deaths were not due to lack of oxygen. “The oxygen supplier firm M/s Pushpa Sale Pvt Ltd, Lucknow, had disrupted oxygen supply for which it is responsible, which it should not have done keeping in mind its life-saving job," the committee found.

“Dr Kafeel Khan (nodal of 100-bed AES ward) had said that he had informed in writing about the ward’s AC not working to Dr Satish Kumar, but they were not repaired in time. Dr Satish, the HoD of Anaesthesia was absent from the BRD Medical College on 11 August without any written permission."

Stating that he was the in-charge of uninterrupted supply of liquid oxygen, it said, “Dr Satish had been prima facie guilty of not discharging his duties." Pointing to another lacuna, the committee said it was the job of Dr Satish and chief pharmacist Gajanan Jaiswal to maintain the stock book and log book of oxygen cylinders.

However, these “were not maintained, and overwriting was done". “In-charge of logbook Dr Satish did not sign the logbook, which shows that this issue was not taken up seriously either by him or by the principal," the committee added.

According to the report, principal Dr Mishra was out of headquarters on 10 August, and Dr Satish had left for Mumbai on 11 August without permission. “If both the officials had resolved the problems in time before leaving the medical college, then these circumstances would not have risen. Both the officials must (have) had information about disruption of oxygen supply by the firm."

The committee also said Mishra, given the sensitive nature of the Bal Rog Vibhaag (paediatrics department), allegedly did not pay attention to the facilities, maintenance and payments. “Despite repeated requests made by the firm supplying liquid oxygen and availability of budget on 5 August, and not informing the principal in time and not presenting the patravali (bills), three persons including two from accounts section have been found prima facie guilty," the committee found.

It also recommended an audit and a high level probe by the medical education department. “Overwriting in the stock book, and non-payment of bills of the liquid oxygen supplier firm either serially or date-wise, prima facie points out to financial anomaly, for which it would be appropriate to conduct an audit and a high-level probe by the medical education department."

CMO Dr Kumar said the five-member committee was constituted to find out whether the deaths on 10 August were actually caused by lack of oxygen. The inquiry was ordered by Gorakhpur district magistrate on 11 August, after the deaths were reported.

Though the report confines itself to the events on 10 August, the hospital has been in the spotlight for the deaths of 30 children in a span of 48 hours. Since 1 August, 71 persons have died of encephalitis in the state-run Gorakhpur facility. PTI

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