Agra’s Shri Paras Hospital incident gained national attention after the video of the hospital owner went viral. The hospital owner described the incident, in which 22 Covid-19 patients allegedly died, as a “mock drill”.
Dr Arinjay Jain, who runs the private hospital, was caught bragging on a video about how the hospital turned off the oxygen supply for five minutes in a “mock drill” to identify “who will die and who will survive”.
The video is said to have been recorded on April 27 but became a subject of interest only on June 8.
It has been alleged that 22 patients later died and their deaths were covered up. The administration has said four patients died in the so-called mock drill on the night of the incident and the next morning due to Covid-related complications.
Questions are now being raised over the video’s content, as the hospital management claims that they only initiated a mock drill to assess the actual requirement of oxygen for each patient and none of the patients died due to oxygen shortage.
The Agra administration also said that there were 387 oxygen cylinders available at the hospital on the night of 26-27 April and 20 cylinders were available as a reserve.
“Even the reserve cylinders were sufficient to maintain the oxygen supply in the hospital for 3-4 hours,” the administration said.
On the night of June 8, following the Agra administration’s orders to seal the hospital, a fight broke out between various political party workers, attendants, and the hospital staff.
After the incident, the doctors and staff of the hospital were booked under Sections 188 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 52 and 54 of the Disaster Management Act, and Section 3 of the Epidemic Act following a written complaint filed by Deputy chief medical officer Dr RK Agnihotri. The hospital has been sealed and its license temporarily suspended.
The fight broke out when the attendants of the patients started protesting the evacuation of the hospital. They claimed that it was not in the interest of the critical patients admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) to be shifted at such short notice to another hospital, as most of these patients were on ventilator support, not in a condition to be shifted and could die if moved from the hospital.
The patients were later shifted to the SN Medical College after the intervention of Agra’s chief medical officer Dr RC Pandey.
IMA OBJECTS TO SEALING OF HOSPITAL
Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has objected to the sealing of the hospital. IMA president Dr Rajiv Upadhyay demanded that the investigation should be done in a scientific manner and medical experts should be called in to verify the various facts presented before the magistrate.
He also demanded that the records of the patients admitted to the hospital on that date should be pulled up immediately so that it was ascertained whether 22 patients actually died on that night and the next morning or not.
He also sought a probe into why the video recorded on April 27 started circulating on June 8 only.
Former IMA secretary Dr Sanjay Chaturvedi said the words of hospital owner Dr Arinjay Jain were being misinterpreted and although he was describing the situation in layman’s terms, he probably meant that he “tried weaning off to find a category and actual requirement of the patient (can be called as oxygen audit), so that seeing the limited supply oxygen management can be properly done.”
WHAT OTHER EXPERTS SAY?
Renowned pediatrician Dr Deepak Kapoor said, “Relatives of those 22 people who allegedly died should come forward and file complaints, otherwise it’s irresponsible media bashing.”
He questioned why the relatives of the alleged deceased patients were silent till now and did not come out. Sources claimed that a local TV journalist was involved in making this video go viral after his attempts to extort money from the doctor failed.
The video appears to have been recorded by a hospital staffer, who was present when the doctor was having some light moments off-duty with some of his friends, sources said.
Social activist Amir said Shri Paras Hospital had been a hub of irregularities since the first Covid-19 wave and was even sealed for 10 days last year for treating Covid-19 patients without authorization. That allegedly resulted in the spread of the infection to 10 districts.
However, to allege that 22 patients died in that hospital in a single night is pure exaggeration, Amir said. With the media being so vigilant in April, documenting every Covid-19 death, 22 deaths in one hospital would not have remained hidden, he said.
“Not only the doctor but those involved in the delay in the release of the video of their personal benefit, should also be sent to jail,” he said.
Hindustani Biradari vice-chairman Vishal Sharma said although there had been many cases of callous and irresponsible doctors causing the death of a patient, it was inconceivable that a doctor would knowingly murder 22 people in cold blood.
“However, if the allegations are true, then the government should not limit the investigation to just a magisterial inquiry and should hand over the case to the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] so that the people of this country can know the truth behind this incident,” he said.