BHU Hospital Used Asphyxiating N2O Gas as Anesthesia, Finds Probe

The industrial grade gas that was used in the surgeries is not permitted in medicine.

Published05 Oct 2017, 04:48 PM IST
2 min read

A probe by a joint investigation team of the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government has found that a hospital attached to the Banaras Hindu University – which currently finds itself embroiled in controversy – has been utilising industrial-grade gas to administer anesthesia to patients during surgery, reported The Times of India.

The industrial grade gas that was used in the surgeries is not permitted in medicine, and may have caused at least 14 deaths of surgery patients at Sundar Lal Hospital, between 6 June and 8 June 2017.

It was further revealed in the report that the gas was supplied by a company – Parerhat Industrial Enterprises – that did not have the license to manufacture or sell any medical gas.

Incidentally, the firm's director Ashok Kumara Bajpai's son is the BJP's Allahabad North MLA, Harshvardhan Bajpai. He owns Rs 1.21 crore in the company's shares, reported TOI.

In June 2017, Azamgarh based social activist, Sunil Kumar Paswan, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging corruption in supply of anesthesia to the hospital. The letter alleged that the BHU VC and the medical superintendent had colluded to give the contract to Bajpai’s company.

While Bajpai admitted that his firm does not have a license, he insisted that the deaths could not have been caused by the nitrous oxide (N2O) supplied by his firm, as it was also being supplied to other hospitals at King George's Medical University in Lucknow and Motilal Nehru Medical College in Allahabad.

Meanwhile, Om Prakash Upadhyay, the Medical Superintendent at the BHU hospital claimed that there had only been four deaths, not 14, and the newspaper (TOI) should "find the 14 death certificates".

Following protests on 8 June, the hospital set up a fact finding team which confirmed only three deaths. According to the medical superintendent, another death was reported later.

BHU Hospital Used Asphyxiating N2O Gas as Anesthesia, Finds Probe
(Photo: The Quint)

Whether the deaths were indeed caused by the gas is being investigated, but industrial grade nitrous oxide (N2O) presents several hazards if breathed directly, and for too long.

According to some medical reports, breathing it directly from a pressurised cylinder could cause frostbite of the nose, or even worse, the vocal chords. Besides, not mixing N2O with oxygen can cause asphyxiation.

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