No shortage of oxygen in hospitals

The death of over 70 children died allegedly owing to the shortage of oxygen supply at a state-run hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, last week, has worried parents and patients in the city.
No shortage of oxygen in hospitals
Representative Image

Chennai

Health department officials in Tamil Nadu, however, ruled out that a similar incident could happen in the state. 
Dr Srinivasan, who heads the neo-natal intensive care unit at the Institute for Child Health and Children’s Hospital (ICH), Egmore, said, “The state government ensures that there is a continuous supply of oxygen in all government hospitals.” 
He added, “We consider oxygen to be the most important drug and with the government’s support, even if the oxygen is bought from private firms, there is no question of any state-run hospital running short of it.”
Speaking about the Gorakhpur incident, Dr Srinivasan said, “Unlike Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu does not have any dearth of funds and no hospital can be denied of oxygen owing to unpaid bills.”
The ICH, like other prominent government hospitals, has a liquid oxygen plant installed outside the building. It has tubes that supply oxygen to ICUs and wards. While the plant is refilled once in every five to six days, bigger hospitals like Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) ensure it is refilled every two to three days.
“We have a 20-kilolitre cylinder. When one third of the liquid is used up, we inform the company and they refill it immediately,” said Dr Narayana Babu, dean of RGGGH. 
Meanwhile, private hospitals like Fortis Malar Hospital, too have measures in place to ensure that they never run short of oxygen.
“We have two tanks that hold 940 litres liquid oxygen each. When one gets over, we use the second one and call the suppliers to refill the first tank,” said an official from Fortis Malar Hospital. “We also have oxygen cylinders stocked in event of an emergency,” he added.
Moreover, the hospitals do not have to pay even a penny to install liquid oxygen plants. “We see to it that a plant is erected, and other arrangements and precautionary measures are taken. Hospitals buy liquid oxygen from us and other suppliers for around Rs 80,000 for every 10-kilo litre,” said an official from Inox Air Products Limited. 
It is also mandatory for primary health centres (PHC) across the state to have at least two cylinders. “Even if a PHC does not need two cylinders, they must have them to ensure there is adequate oxygen in the event of an emergency,” said Dr Kolandaisamy, director of Public Health Department.
Oxygen is usually available by three ways
* Oxygen cylinders – Cylinders filled with the gas.
* Liquid oxygen – Stored in hospital plants and distributed to wards via tubes.
* Oxygen concentrator – It uses the oxygen in the air and converts into liquid under high pressure. It is mostly used by people recently discharged from hospitals and costs over Rs 50,000.
Liquid oxygen more economical and beneficial than oxygen in cylinders
* Hospitals have to wait for the stock to be replenished if the oxygen cylinders run dry.
* Vehicles such as trucks and lorries and extra manpower are required to transport the cylinders.
* Since most hospitals have a plant for liquid oxygen, the supplier only needs to refill it.
* Liquid oxygen is distributed to wards through tubes and so there hardly and labour involved.
Most of the hospitals in the city get their supply of oxygen from private suppliers
* Oxygen cylinders for hospitals are usually labelled.
* Lorries which transport oxygen cylinders are not allowed to carry industrial oxygen with it.
* A nurse or a technician is required to fix an oxygen cylinder.
* It is easy to buy an oxygen cylinder.
* Oxygen concentrators can also be bought online.
* Medical oxygen, however, must be given under the supervision of a doctor.
* Oxygen parlours, which is a new trend, has no regulations and are flayed by doctors.

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