Monday, December 07, 2020
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Peshawar hospital suspends seven officers over death of six coronavirus patients

Five patients in isolation ward and one in ICU passed away due to disruption in oxygen supply at Khyber Teaching Hospital

PESHAWAR: Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) has suspended seven officers with immediate effect over the death of six coronavirus patients due to the unavailability of oxygen in the hospital.

Five patients in the isolation ward and one in the intensive care unit (ICU) died early Sunday when the hospital’s oxygen supply was disrupted. When the incident occurred, there were at least 90 patients in the isolation ward. 

The hospital administration had initiated an inquiry into the shortage of oxygen as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government sought a report within 48 hours. However, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said the government would hold an independent investigation if the hospital fails to furnish the report.

The report's findings issued the same day said the incident took place due to a “system failure”. It identified that a chronic lack of refilling oxygen tanks went “unnoticed, unsupervised and unchecked”.

“There is no back of oxygen storage/ supply system in the hospital as recommended by the Health Technical Memorandum (HTM),” the report stated.

The report also found that the supply chain department failed to provide the required number of flow metres for cylinders and highlighted that the hospital has no emergency rescue squad either.

It added that the management had failed to report an absentee staff of the oxygen plant, and stressed that the plant staff lacked training and skills while the biomedical engineer also failed to perform his duties.

To be noted here is that the services contract with the supplier had expired in June 2017 and the report said no "office order regarding renewal/ extension of contract is available in the record provided by manager pharmacy."

Although the hospital oxygen tank has the storage capacity of 10,000 cubic metres, it has never been filled to the required level. "The supplier supplied tank with only 3,040 cubic metre on December 4 - far below the storage capacity."

The on-duty manager for services line said he received a call from the main operation theatre regarding low oxygen pressure and call the plant operation but the call went answered. "The pressure in the oxygen plant at that time was recorded zero."

Keeping all this in view, the management suspended seven including hospital director, facility, and supply chain managers. Furthermore, the management said it would investigate standards of the supply system, hire trained and qualified staff for the oxygen plant, establish a backup system on an emergency basis, and organise a rescue squad.  

Read more: Pakistan's coronavirus positivity rate nears 10%

"Learn from systemic failure"

KP Health Minister Taimur Jhagra said on Monday that hospitals across the country "may learn from the systemic failures here".

KP COVID-19 situation

The province has recorded over 2,300 infections in the past seven days with an average of 329 cases per day. The virus has claimed at least 45 lives in the same period while 2,389 patients have recovered. 

Since the outbreak, KP has recorded 49,676 and 1,413 deaths.