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HC pulls up AAP govt on facilities in hospitals

HC pulls up AAP govt on facilities in hospitals
February 12
11:22 2019

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the AAP government in Delhi had responded to the issue of putting online the details of facilities, like ventilators, available at its medical centers and hospitals and directed the principal secretary of its Health department to be present before it to answer its queries.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao also directed the principal secretary to ensure that a ventilator was provided to a three-year-old boy, admitted in the LNJP Hospital since January 24 and suffering from a medical condition related to the brain, who was in dire need of the facility and was making do with a manual resuscitator.

The critical medical condition of the boy and his need for a ventilator were brought to the court’s attention by advocate Ashok Agarwal, who also told the bench that no steps were taken by the Delhi government and the Centre to inform the patients about the facilities available at the hospitals they ran in the national capital.

While the Centre told the court that necessary steps were taken to ensure that patients were made aware of the medical facilities available, Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Satyakam told the bench that the Health department had only issued a note-sheet stating that it was discussing the matter.

He also told the court that the note-sheet only indicated two phone numbers for enquiring whether ventilators were available.

Taking note of the submissions, the bench said more than a year-and-a-half had gone by since the high court, in September 2017, had directed the Delhi government and the Centre to put online the details of the facilities available at their medical centers, but the steps taken were not placed on record.

It further said, “We are not satisfied with the manner in which the Delhi government has responded to the issue. We direct the principal secretary, Health department to appear before us 1 to answer our queries.”

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by it on its own after it came to know that a newborn had died as the family got no ventilator-fitted bed in four government hospitals in the national capital.

The court had observed that if information regarding availability of ventilators was readily accessible online, the life of the baby might have been saved.

A newborn girl died at the Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital in northeast Delhi because it had no ventilator support, while the three other government hospitals where the desperate family had gone had refused admission, saying no critical care beds were available.

According to a report, the baby, after a normal birth on September 20, 2017, was diagnosed with birth asphyxia that caused less oxygen to go to the brain and necessitated immediate ventilator support.

“In the absence of a ventilator, the hospital asked the family to ventilate the baby with an ambu-bag. The newborn died around 4 am on September 21,” the report had said.

An ambu-bag is a manual, hand-held resuscitation device, which attendants are asked to keep pressing 16-18 times per minute to move air in and out of the lungs of a patient who cannot breathe on her own. Medical experts had termed this practice as “primitive” and “condemnable”, the report had said. PTI

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