Oxygen leak from Nashik Hospital: “I saw people take the bottles from the dead, use them to revive relatives”

Watching people snatch oxygen bottles from the bedside of dead patients to try to revive their family members and do the same for their own dying grandmother was a “dehumanizing” moment, recalled 23-year-old Vicky Jadhav. . His grandmother, Sugandha Thorat, 65, was among at least 24 patients who died after an oxygen supply was damaged due to a leak in the main storage tank at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, Wednesday.

“Seeing people die in front of your eyes in less than an hour is traumatic. But I can’t get past the eyes of people screaming to get the oxygen cylinders off the beds of dead patients and try to use them to revive their own loved ones. Even I tried to do that, but it was of no use “, said Jadhav.

Thorat was in a critical condition, with his oxygen saturation at just 38 years old, when Jadhav entered the hospital at 10 in the morning to meet her. But he realized he was not receiving oxygen and sounded the alarm to staff, he said.

“When I told them that the system was not working, they went to check the system and then detected a leak. As soon as this happened, there was panic on the third floor, where most of the critical patients were kept with staff pulling out jumbo cylinders to help patients, ”Jadhav said.

However, jumbo cylinders did not replace the large airflow of the tank and many critical patients could not survive in the absence of respiratory support.

“There was chaos as doctors and nurses tried to revive patients. Relatives rushed to the ward after hearing that something was wrong … When we realized that the oxygen had run out, the relatives, including me, shouted to take these cylinders off the beds of the patients they were given. oxygen and they died, ”Jadhav said.

Many gathered their family members from the beds and tried to take them in rickshaws and private vehicles to nearby hospitals. But some like Nitin Welukar, whose brother and mother were in the same ward, could not do so.

“My mother was to be discharged tomorrow, while my brother Pramod was to be discharged four days later. He was full of life and full of heart when I came in this morning with his food. In less than two hours, he died before my eyes, praying for help and there was nothing I could do for him, ”Welukar said of his 45-year-old brother.

Meanwhile, the hospital administration said staff did everything they could to revive critically ill patients, but the sudden loss of high-flow oxygen was fatal to critically ill patients.

“We developed jumbo cylinders, as well as dura cylinders available at the hospital. Cylinders were also purchased from nearby hospitals. However, these cylinders could not be replaced with the high-flow oxygen required by critical patients, which eventually caused their death, “said a nurse who did not want to be named.

The hospital has managed to ensure the safety of more than 100 other patients, such as Rajesh Kanade, who has been in hospital for five days. His wife, Sharda Kanade, was with him when she “panicked in the hospital” after the leak. “A nurse came to my husband’s bed and asked him not to panic. It also gave him oxygen through a cylinder for some time, “she said.

Those who lost their loved ones are now blaming the administration. “I don’t want to blame the doctors and nurses, they did everything they could. My anger is against the administration, which failed to ensure that the system they set up is safe and functional, “Jadhav said.