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Three patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) hospital in Ballari, Karnataka, died allegedly due to power outage on Wednesday, 14 September.
VIMS and the Karnataka government have denied the allegations and claimed that the deaths were not due to power cuts as backup was readily available and the patients were already in a critical condition.
Maula Hussein (35) died due to a kidney failure and Chettemma (30) was a snake-bite victim. The third patient who died was identified as Manoj Kumar.
There were close to 10 other patients on ventilator in the ICU, who were shifted to the Operation Theatre (OT).
"We hospitalised him (Manoj) on 6th and he was fine till 13th. He was soon shifted to a different ward. After shifting, there was power cut for close to two hours. The entire night that he was there, there was no power. Again in the morning, there was power cut around 6:15am. There was no back up till 11:30am," deceased Manoj Kumar's brother told reporters.
"They gave us a balloon and asked us to keep pressing it to ensure that the patient could breathe. We kept pressing balloon continuously, two of us took turns. Thereafter, they told us that his condition was stable. But, we realised two people died in the beds next to us. That's when we realised even our patient was dead," he added.
He said that the hospital staff asked him to shift Kumar to a different hospital and did not allow them to stay inside the hospital.
"We believe, there was no power and that is the reason why he died. Since there was no electricity and oxygen, my brother died," Kumar's brother said.
'Government Responsible for Deaths': Opposition Leader Siddaramaiah
In the Karnataka Assembly, the Opposition Congress claimed that the three people died due to negligence by the government and demanded the resignation of Health Minister K Sudhakar.
During the Zero hour, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said that there was a power cut from 8 am to 10:30 am and the generator was not functioning during those hours, leading to the death of three people who were on ventilators in the ICU.
He held the director of the college, Health Minister, Department and Officials, as well as the Deputy Commissioner of the district responsible for the death and asked the government to take accountability.
Siddaramaiah added that strict action should be taken against officials responsible and a further compensation of Rs 25 lakh each should be given to the family of the deceased immediately.
Deaths Cause Ruckus in Karnataka Assembly
JC Madhuswamy, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, said that the "language used in the notice" by Siddaramaiah was not expected.
"The letter states the government was directly responsible for the deaths, and they were not accidental, but a government-sponsored murder... what is this?"Madhuswamy asked
This was followed by a heated discussion between Siddaramaiah and Madhuswamy, with legislators from both sides getting involved. Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri subsequently intervened and pacified the situation.
Ballari District in-charge Minister B Sriramulu, on behalf of the government, shared details about the deaths and said that they were not due to power outage.
"Hundred percent! Maula Hussein and Chettemma died not due to power failure and the Medical Superintendent there has also given a report in this regard... they have died of health issues they were suffering from," he said, affirming that there was one-and-half-hour power backup at the hospital.
Arguing that there are reports that the deaths were due to power outage and lack of backup, Siddaramaiah demanded a probe into the matter.
He said that the government should not "play on the issue of deaths" and accept its failure.
While continuing to say that the deaths were due to the patients' medical conditions, he said, "Still if there is suspicion, we will get an inquiry done and report it back to the House. If there is fault on part of the hospital, compensation to the deceased kin will be considered and action will be taken against those responsible."
The government has formed a team of five government doctors to investigate the matter.
(With inputs form PTI.)
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