As Nanded hospital death toll rises to 31, Sambhajinagar hospital reports 18 deaths

As Nanded hospital death toll rises to 31, Sambhajinagar hospital reports 18 deaths

With over a dozen dead in State-run hospitals in two districts of Maharashtra in little over 48 hours, the Opposition has slammed the government for gross negligence, and trigged calls for an investigation. 

Authorities on Tuesday confirmed an additional seven patient fatalities, including four newborns, between October 1 and 2, at Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital, Nanded which had already witnessed the deaths of 24 patients, including 12 newborns, a day earlier. Meanwhile, at least 18 deaths occurred within 24 hours in a hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (formerly Aurangabad), allegedly due to a lack of medical help, and a shortage of essential medicines.

The District Information Office (DIO) of Nanded confirmed these additional fatalities, urging the public not to panic stating that a team of doctors is present and ready to respond. “The facts related to the death of patients at Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital are as follows: 24 deaths between September 30 and October 1; seven deaths between October 1 and 2. Please do not panic. A team of doctors is ready,” the DIO informed.

In response to the crisis, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the government had taken the deaths at Nanded Hospital “very seriously”, and appropriate action would be taken after a detailed inquiry while denying that there were shortages of medicines and staff. “Adequate medicine stock and medical staff were available at the hospital. A significant number of patients who died were old people with heart ailments, underweight infants or accident victims,” he said.

Of the initial 24 deaths reported between September 30 and October 1, 12 were infants, as revealed by the hospital dean Dr. S.R. Wakode, who attempted to downplay the severity of the situation claiming that many of the deceased were outpatients who were brought to the hospital in a critical condition from neighbouring districts of Hingoli, Parbhani and Washim. Some were from the bordering villages in Telangana.

“There are 142 admissions in the paediatric department of the hospital 42 are still critical. Oxygen as well as ventilator facilities are there,” he said, adding that most of the infants were in the 0–3 day age group and had very low weight. State Medical Education Minister Hasan Mushrif visited the hospital and said that he had briefed Chief Minister Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis regarding the same. Sources at the hospital confirmed that the condition of about 70 more adult patients admitted to the hospital remains critical.

An official statement from the Nanded district collectorate revealed that among the adult patients who lost their lives, five were male and seven were female and causes of death varied, including heart-related ailments, unknown poisoning, liver issues, kidney problems, and complications during pregnancy. Additionally, three deaths resulted from accidents.

Some deceased were ‘dead on arrival’, claim authorities

Speaking to The Hindu, Medical Superintendent at Government Medical College and Hospital, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Dr. Vijay Kalyankar stated that out of the 18 recent deaths recorded, four individuals were brought in dead, two succumbed to heart attacks, while two others battled pneumonia.

Two pre-term babies, weighing only 1.3 kg each lost their lives on the sixth day of treatment, while three patients reported dead were struggling with renal failure, one with liver failure, and another with the combined failure of both liver and kidney. One each died of poisoning, a road accident and infection following an appendix burst, Dr. Kalyankar explained, adding that there was no shortage of life-saving drugs and a report was being sent to the State government.

The authorities are also assessing how many were last-minute referrals to the GMCH from the peripheral government hospitals and private hospitals.

“We admit over 27,000 patients in a month and the average death is 1.10% to 1.45%. Last month 419 deaths were reported in our hospital, of which 103 were brought in dead,” he said, adding that on average 15 to 18 patients are declared dead every day at the hospital.

“Moreover, we did not receive any complaints from the family members of the patients alleging medical negligence,” Dr. Kalyankar said.

Opposition slams State, Centre; demand investigation

The Opposition hit out at the ruling dispensation in Maharashtra and BJP at the Centre over the deaths.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who visited the hospital on Monday, expressed his deep concern, stating that the deaths continue unabated at the hospital in Nanded. He demanded that the State government hold individuals accountable for the ongoing tragedy.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray expressed deep concern and shock as reports emerged of yet another incident, this time at Ghati Hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar echoing the recent tragic events at the government hospital in Nanded. “The distressing news also revealed that an additional seven deaths occurred at the Nanded hospital, adding to the growing list of fatalities. These repeated incidents raise serious questions about the safety and quality of care in government hospitals,” Mr. Thackeray said.

The Worli legislator alleged that these incidents point to a concerning collapse of the healthcare system in Maharashtra during the tenure of the “Shinde-BJP government”.

He further criticised the government for what he perceived as a lack of concern for people’s lives and a failure to address the gravity of the situation. “Individuals who neglect their duty to safeguard the lives of Maharashtra’s residents have no rightful place in positions of power. These events have underscored the need for immediate action to restore public trust in the healthcare system and prevent further tragic incidents,” the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader added.

Accusing the Maharashtra government of being “careless”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the incident as “extremely painful.” Taking to the microblogging site ‘X’, Mr. Kejriwal said, “This news of death of 24 people including 12 newborns in a government hospital in Nanded, Maharashtra is very painful. May God give courage to all the bereaved families in this difficult time.”

“It is being told that these deaths occurred due to shortage of medicines. How can a government be so careless? These people are busy in forming and bringing down the government by buying and selling of MLAs but they do not care about the lives of the people,” the AAP leader said.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar slammed the Shinde government for the deaths and asserted that the incident highlights the failure of the government system. The 82-year-old politician called for a serious response to ensure the safety of patients in the future.

“Just two months ago, there was an unfortunate incident where 18 people died in a single night in Kalwa Hospital of Thane Municipal Corporation. However, due to not taking this incident seriously, such a very serious incident was repeated in the government hospital in Nanded. This shows the failure of government systems,” he said.

Mr. Pawar said that the government’s failure to address the seriousness of that incident led to a similar tragedy in Nanded’s government hospital. His party’s national president and Baramati MP Supriya Sule called on Chief Minister Shinde to secure the resignation of the responsible Ministers, and said “how many more victims does the BJP government want? The rulers are sitting idly with their hands tied while the health system is in chaos. Sensible rulers would have resigned the concerned ministers by now.”

“Although there is chaos in the health system on such a large scale, the government does not seem to have the mindset to take measures. The Chief Minister should immediately resign the concerned ministers and review the health system,” she said.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday called for a detailed investigation into the deaths. “The news of the death of 24 patients, including 12 infants, in a civil hospital in Nanded, Maharashtra is extremely painful, serious and worrying. It is being said that these patients died due to a lack of medicines and treatment. A similar incident took place in a government hospital in Thane in August 2023 in which 18 patients lost their lives,” he said.

“Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Continuous such accidents have raised a question mark on the health system of the state government. We demand a detailed investigation so that the culprits of this negligence are given strict punishment from the judiciary,” he added.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra demanded strict action against those responsible and compensation for the affected families. In a post on X, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said the news of the death of 24 people, including 12 newborns, due to shortage of medicines in a government hospital in Maharashtra is extremely saddening and expressed his deepest condolences to all the bereaved families. “The BJP government spends thousands of crores of rupees on its publicity, but there is no money for medicines for children? In the eyes of the BJP, the lives of the poor have no value,” he alleged.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray said that the “health of the State is on the ventilator.”

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