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April 8, 2021

Alleged death of Covid-19 patients: LRH admin forms another body to probe incident


April 8, 2021

PESHAWAR: Taking note of the alleged death of eight Covid-19 patients in the hospital, the administration of Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) on Wednesday constituted another two-member committee to investigate the causes of the human losses that is believed to have happened due to mismanagement, officials told The News.

LRH is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest and oldest public sector hospital. It has always played a leading role in handling major traumas in the province and erstwhile tribal areas.

The hospital is always in the headlines for various reasons, though this historic institution and the people working there had never been praised for the great work they had been doing during the crisis.

The hospital was again in the news in the mainstream national media a few days due to the alleged disruption in oxygen gas in the Corona Complex.

The hospital administration initially tried to hush up the issue and even banned media’s entry in the hospital premises, but some faculty members as well as the Young Doctors Association (YDA) brought it into the limelight claiming that eight coronavirus patients had died on that terrible night.

According to hospital insiders, there were in fact three different incidents in the past few days in the hospital and all seemed to be planned and coordinated, aimed at embarrassing the newly-appointed acting medical director and his team.

The faculty members said the incident had happened on the night of March 29 when the condition of some patients in the Corona Complex deteriorated and needed immediate assistance in the intensive care unit (ICU). However, according to sources, there was neither any senior or authorised person to make arrangements for shifting them to the ICU.

“The doctors on duty with the help of other people managed to shift the critical patients to other units and saved their lives. On the same night, however, some issues happened in the oxygen gas supply to patients admitted to the thoracic ICU and reportedly led to the loss of eight patients,” said an official of the hospital on condition of anonymity.

He said in his 20-year career, he never heard that any issue ever happened to oxygen gas supply to the thoracic ICU, now dedicated to Covid-19 patients.

He said nine patients were on ventilators in thoracic ICU and oxygen gas supply was suddenly disrupted there.

The medical director, however, successfully made arrangements to shift all the nine patients to the ICU in the new block and their lives were saved.

The same night, he said, oxygen gas supply to the old pulmonology ward was disrupted in the middle of the night. The medical director and his staff managed to shift the patients from the old pulmonology department to the new block in time to save their lives. And at the same time, according to insiders, a doctor in the accident and emergency department informed the hospital administration that he had 25 patients and their condition had become critical and needed to be shifted to the ICU. They were also accommodated in the new block, but one thing that alarmed the administration was as to why some people recorded videos of patients being shifted to other units in the night and then shared these on social media.

The hospital administration as well as the media came to know about the alleged loss of patients when chairperson of Corona Task Force, Dr Salmazeb wrote a letter to the hospital administration on April 4, 2021.

She lodged a complaint and demanded that the hospital administration should order investigation into the incident.

Since there are different groups of people, some of them backed by powerful lobbies in the hospital administration and faculty members, they exploited the situation and used it for their vested interests, allegedly to malign the newly appointed medical director.

The hospital administration earlier formed a three-member inquiry committee with Prof Aamir Bilal as its head to investigate the incident.

After Prof Aamir Bilal’s refusal to join the inquiry committee, a two-member committee comprising Prof Dr Yasin Khan, chairman of the medicine department, and Yousaf Bangash, in-patient manager, was formed and given the task to probe the matter and submit report to the hospital administration.

Insiders confirmed that some patients had died on April 4 due to the alleged mismanagement but they don’t know whether someone would really investigate it. “I have been in LRH for many years and this hospital is now badly suffering from the dirty politics of internal groups. The basic issue is money as everybody wants to make money and nothing else,” a senior faculty member opined.

He said the hospital had not spent a single rupee in the first Covid-19 pandemic and a senior faculty member, Prof Aamir Bilal had used his connections in the government and arranged for LRH all the necessary items including face masks, personal protection equipment (PPEs), etc.

“The main issue is funds. Some people in the hospital administration demanded Rs750 million for procurement which was turned down by people well aware of their intentions. Prof Aamir Bilal again played his role and arranged precious equipment including monitors from the health directorate,” the official of the LRH administration said.

Also, another reason behind the crisis in LRH was the decision of the hospital administration to expand coronavirus treatment services. “Most of the people in the hospital don’t want the coronavirus treatment services to be expanded. Another reason that annoyed everybody was the decision of the Board of Governors to close the institution-based private practice,” the official said.

The LRH media manager, Mohammad Asim, however, told The News that there was, in fact, no issue of oxygen shortage in the hospital, saying some people for their vested interest highlighted it in the media. “Since LRH is taking the maximum burden in the Covid-19 pandemic, it is obvious that patients die here due to multiple complications. But there was no such issue that night which some people are propagating,” said the LRH spokesman.

Presently, LRH has the largest facility for treating Covid-19 patients in KP. It had arranged 240 beds in an old corona complex including 55 beds in the ICU. There are 308 active beds, including 55 in the ICU, where 20 patients are on ventilators.

The hospital administration on directions of the government had decided to allocate

504 oxygenated beds for the corona patients in medical and surgical blocks. It will raise the total number of beds to more than 800 in LRH for coronavirua patients.