Supreme Court committee horrified by conditions in government hospitals established to treat victims of the Union Carbide gas disaster

PRESS STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz

August 21, 2005
Leaders of four organizations active on issues concerning the lingering consequences of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today presented copies of the latest report of the “Monitoring Committee for Medical Rehabilitation of Bhopal Gas Victims” at a press conference today. The monitoring committee was set up under the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India on August 17, 2004 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.50 of 1998 filed by the Bhopal Group for Information & Action and the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan. The 17-page report of the committee is based on surprise visits to five of the seven government hospitals that are meant to provide free medical care to the survivors of the disaster.
The committee found “short attendance, missing bulb and holders in operating theatre lights, fungus in the sterilization equipment”, “uncontrolled growth of ‘carrot grass'”, “staff quarters remaining vacant ever since construction” and other deficiencies at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital, Malikheri. Regarding this hospital the committee has commented “It is unfortunate that gross under utilization of a facility created out of a huge investment of scarce resources, has gone unattended so far.”
During their surprise visit to Master Lal Singh Hospital in February 2005 the committee found an empty oxygen cylinder in the female ward. The committee has noted that the “nurse on duty could not give a satisfactory explanation for the empty cylinder” that was “obviously kept for use but without proper checking”. The committee also found an “out of order suction machine in the children’s ward due to the tube in the equipment being clogged” and noted the “non-availability of a child specialist for two and half years”. Informed about the shortage of various specialists at this hospital the committee has recommended that the “State govt. should carry out a special survey of the needs of specialists in the hospital vis-a-vis the number of patients and take the required steps.”
In the Pulmonary Medicine Centre the committee “found to its horror that one cylinder of nitrous oxide (used in anesthesia) was found stored with oxygen cylinders in the Store which was a matter of serious neglect of duty and an error with dangerous consequences.” The committee also took exception to the absence of oxygen cylinders and emergency tray in the emergency room”. The committee has also reported that the expensive Color Doppler equipment, ITV equipment for examination of lungs and the Blood Analyzer were lying in disuse for up to one year. The committee also found that the operating theatre and the intensive care unit in this hospital, though equipped, have been lying unused for the last year. The committee has informed the Supreme Court that the hospital was not being used “primarily as a pulmonary health facility” and that “the objectives with which this specialized hospital was brought into existence are not being satisfied. In fact the hospital has never been used for fulfilling those objectives.”
During their visit to the Jawahar Lal Nehru hospital members of the monitoring committee found that the compounder administering Gentamycin injection to a small child “was not sure of the dose” and “could also not satisfactorily reply as to how much dose should be given to children.” In the female ward the committee found that the case sheets of patients “do not show any record of chart, pulse and temperature.” Noting that patients kept coming to the hospital off and on because “the relief is temporary and the ailment occurs again” the committee recommended holding consultation meetings between doctors available in various gas relief hospitals and the medical education department.
The committee found that out of 5 doctors on OPD duty at the Shakir Ali Khan hospital “only one was examining patients” and the remaining 4 doctors were absent till 9.30 am while their reporting time was 8 am. The emergency room was also found to be without a doctor and the driver of the ambulance van proved untraceable for an hour and a half.
The committee has recommended that hospitals carry out internal monitoring, organize monthly meetings with medical experts, computerize medical records and send ‘Action Taken Reports [ATR]’ on the recommendations made by the committee.
The committee has former Chairman, Public Sevice Commission, Mr O P Mehra as its Chairman and Dr. M H Kanehre, Consultant Surgeon, Dr. G C Baijal, Director Medical Education, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Dr. H H Trivedi, Consultant Physician and journalist Purnendu Shukla as members. As Convenor of the committee Dr. Baijal is responsible for running the office of the committee and organizing its meetings and surprise visits to the hospitals.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh +91 9303132298
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha +91 9329026319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz +91 9826182226
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action +91 9826167369

Contact :
House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal

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