Hospitals asked to use ‘scarce resource’ oxygen judiciously


Hours after the tragedy in Chamarajanagar that claimed 23 lives in the district hospital, allegedly on account of oxygen scarcity, the State government sprung into action putting in place a stringent system for “rational and judicious use” of oxygen in hospitals, as it is a “scarce resource”.

Hospitals have been directed to shore up their storage capacity and ensure they are able to store up to three day’s worth of oxygen requirement on the premises in cylinders, or by putting up a plant, to prevent a tragedy such as the one in Chamarajanagar.

However, shortage of oxygen remains an issue, sources said. While the projected demand in the State is 1,471 tonnes per day (TPD), the State has been allotted 865 TPD of medical oxygen from the Central grid. However, sources said that even the allotted oxygen was not reaching the State. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Monday directed officials to ensure supply of the allocated quantity of oxygen to the State from the centralised grid.

Generator plants

The State government is now looking at alternative sources of oxygen to tide over the shortage as far as possible. The Health and Family Welfare Department has directed every dedicated COVID-19 hospital to set up an oxygen generation plant with a capacity to meet the hospital’s need for a day. The government has also mandated the deployment of oxygen concentrators for mild cases.

Meanwhile, the State government has devised an audit mechanism both at the supply (producers and refillers) and the consumption (hospitals) side to conserve oxygen. As oxygen is a scarce resource, it has to be judiciously used and wastage completely avoided, senior officials said.

The Health and Family Welfare Department has asked all hospitals to form oxygen audit committees. In a detailed six-page list of guidelines on rational use of oxygen in treating COVID-19 patients, hospitals have been directed to classify the patients and accommodate them in five zones based on their oxygen needs, which will be reviewed and reclassified daily. Oxygen concentrators have to be used wherever possible.

Oxygen saturation is to be adjusted to the lowest permissible level to target an oxygen saturation of 92% to 94%. Prone position is to be used intermittently to improve saturation levels.

Plants to be monitored

The State government has brought all the oxygen producers and refillers under its direct supervision. The plants will be monitored by a camp officer of a rank not lower than tahsildar to ensure smooth supply of oxygen to hospitals. Refillers should also submit details every day for an audit.

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