Newborn girl dies at Jag Pravesh Chandra hospital in northeast Delhi owing to ICU and ventilator facility availability
NEW DELHI,Sept22: A newborn girl died at the Jag Pravesh Chandra hospital in northeast Delhi on Thursday because it had no ventilator support and three other government hospitals the desperate family had approached refused admission saying no critical care beds were available.
“I went to Lok Nayak hospital, Chacha Nehru Baal Chikitsalaya and Guru Tegh Bahadur hospital. All of them refused admission citing lack of ICU beds,” said Rizwan Ahmed, the child’s grandfather.
After a normal birth around 1.45pm on Wednesday, the baby was diagnosed with birth asphyxia, which causes less oxygen to go to the brain and necessitates immediate ventilator support. The child’s family said JPCH doctors advised them to take the child to a ‘higher centre’ as the hospital did not any ventilators.
In the absence of a ventilator, the hospital asked the family to ventilate the baby with an ambu-bag. The newborn died around 4am on Thursday, her grandfather said.
“The baby required ventilator support, but our hospital has no ventilator. Parents’ counselling has been done and advised to take baby to the higher centre,” doctors at JPCH wrote in the prescription, a copy of which is with TOI.
An ambu-bag is a manual, handheld resuscitation device, which attendants are asked to keep pressing 16-18 times per minute to move air into and out of the lungs of a patient who cannot breathe on her own. Medical experts have termed this practice as ‘primitive’ and ‘condemnable’.
Last December, TOI had highlighted the widespread use of this outdated technology, after which the government claimed it would add more ventilator-supported beds in state-run hospitals. Many hospitals said providing ventilator isn’t enough and extra manpower is required to operate them.
“It is a shame that children continue to die in the national capital due to lack of equipment. What would I tell his father now who is himself in critical condition,” said the newborn’s grandfather, a resident of Kailash Nagar in Shahdara.
Gulfam, the girl’s father, who is himself struggling for life at a private hospital due to dengue-related complications, was told about the child’s loss late in the evening.
The medical director of Chacha Nehru Baal Chikitsalaya said the hospital had only six ventilator-supported beds. “All of them were occupied when the child’s family came. I called the hospital on Thursday morning as soon as a bed got vacant but by then the child had succumbed to her illness,” Dr Anoop Mohta said.
A senior doctor at Lok Nayak hospital also confirmed that all ventilator-supported beds there were full on Wednesday. “We have a waiting list of 30 for such beds,” he said.
Ashok Agarwal, a public health activist and lawyer, said he had tweeted about the child’s need but there was no reaction from the government. “This is shameful. How can hospitals ask family members to look for availability of ICU beds? They should enquire about it and arrange for transportation themselves,” he said.
This is a representative picture of healthcare in the capital of India! A close friend of mine, who has been manufacturing ventilators and such other life saving devices for decades by way of import…
In September 2015, a newborn was similarly denied admission at Kalawati Saran and Ram Manohar Lohia hospitals because there no beds were available in the newborn ICU.
In private hospitals, the costs of keep a patient in the newborn ICU are upward of Rs 10,000 per night, making such care unaffordable for the poor.