Newborns charred in Hospital Fire: Maha Govt suspends Civil Surgeon, 2 others
Nagpur: Taking stringent action against a Civil Surgeon, an on-duty medical officer, and a nurse attached to a district hospital, the Maharashtra Government has issued suspension orders for all three in wake of a fire accident that killed 10 premature babies in the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of the Bhandara district general hospital.
Besides, the additional civil surgeon has been transferred, while the contract of a pediatrician and two staff nurses of the hospital have been terminated.
This came following an inquiry report of the unfortunate incident that took place on January 9.
The fire had broken out at the district hospital at around 1.30 am where there were 17 babies in the unit at the time of the incident. Seven were rescued, however, ten newborn babies could not be saved. The infants were aged between a month and three months.
A per a recent report by The Indian Express, a six-member panel led by divisional commissioner Sanjeev Kumar was constituted to probe the incident. The committee in its report held the civil surgeon and additional civil surgeon responsible for negligence.
The committee also noted that the hospital lacked maintenance. The reason for charging, as stated in the report, is that being the Civil Surgeon of the district the responsibility of repair and maintenance of the hospital lied on his shoulder. The civil surgeon and additional civil surgeon had reportedly been responsible for ensuring adequate staff in the hospital as well.
The report further charged the on-duty nurses for being absent from their nursing station at the time of the fire. The Sister in Charge of the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) failed to ensure her presence at the nursing station and thus she has received a suspension order as well.
The committee report also held the Medical officer and the pediatrician responsible for being absent at the SNCU despite being assigned duty there.
The report elaborated that when the fire broke out, both the nurses after feeding the babies had stepped out to "fill some report". While the medical officer had been treating some patients in another ward, while the pediatrician was absent from the spot.
Following the first explosion, the two nurses rushed back to the Unit only to find a-seven-day-old-baby charred to death.
While pointing out the source of the fire, the report by the committee mentioned a radiant warmer control panel following a spark probably due to voltage fluctuation.
Thereafter, the fire spread through mattresses and plastic in two other warmers. Melting the central oxygen pipe that runs through the ceiling and the wiring of SNCU led to huge smoke. The smoke caused the death of 10 babies in the "outborn section" of the SNCU. As per the forensic reports, three babies lost their lives because of burn injuries.
The committee has further made recommendations for the appointment of well-trained electrical and biomedical engineers to handle electric appliances and equipment at the hospital.
As per a recent Time of India report, The State Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope announced the details of the action on Thursday. Mentioning that all the recommendations made by the inquiry committee would be implemented, Tope told the Indian Express, "We have also told private agency Faber Sindoori to be vigilant in the inspection of biomedical equipment."
He further told Mumbai Mirror, "The action has been taken due to dereliction of duty on the part of the officials/staffers concerned," adding that "The district civil surgeon and the medical officer will remain suspended until the departmental inquiry is over."
While addressing the concern raised by the inquiry the report related to the proper coordination between the public works department and the health department, Tope told Indian Express, "I have written to all district guardian ministers to provide funds from the District Planning and Development Council for audit and repairs in hospitals. In the coming days, we will see several changes."
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government has also directed a fire audit in the government hospitals of the state. The hospitals would reportedly need to submit the report within a fortnight.
Tope has further mentioned to Indian Express that CCTV cameras would be installed in the hospitals and along with that National Building Code guidelines would be followed for future hospital constructions.
Moreover, the Bhandara district hospital has received a sanction of Rs 1 crore for conducting repair at the damaged SNCU.