A day after the deadly blaze in SUM hospital killed 20 patients while injuring 105 other, the police arrested the hospital superintendent and three others, including its fire safety officer, on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. According to The Indian Express, the hospital lost its accreditation with the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) two months ago. It was found lacking quality standards, including measures to deal with fire.
An FIR was lodged against the hospital authorities by the fire services department for not adhering to the the recommendations that the latter made during a fire safety audit in 2013.
In a conversation with The Indian Express on Tuesday. Dr K K Kalra, CEO of NABH said, “SUM Hospital lost its accreditation about two months back when the surveillance team found it to be wanting on several counts. NABH does not have specific standards for various units of the hospital but SUM was found to be lacking in overall compliance to our standards.”
Moreover, NABH sources said that the inspection team had found that the hospital had not renewed its fire no-objection certificate (NoC) after 2013 and fire drills showed that its staff had not been adequately trained. It added that that the inspection report, which ran into ten chapters, reported serious deficiencies in almost every chapter in relation to safety of the patients and the “overall intent” of the hospital.
The absence of NABH certificate was also confirmed by Amit Banerjee, vice-chancellor of the Siksha O Anusandhan University, under which the medical college cum hospital operates. The certificate ran out in August this year while several hoardings announced that it was NABH-accredited.
The FIR, filed Tuesday by central range fire officer Brajendu Bhushan Das, stated: “Despite recommendations, an operational sprinkler system was not provided in the dialysis ward and ICU. The existing fire protection system available in the building like the fire hydrant system did not function during fire-fighting and there was no water source available. External fire escape staircase has not been provided which hindered evacuation and patients had to be evacuated through windows after breaking the glass panels.”
According to sources, the hospital first got NABH accreditation in June 2013. A hospital usually needs at least 70 per cent compliance of NABH standards for renewal of its accreditation. When the SUM Hospital report was discussed, the accreditation committee decided that the hospital could no longer carry the NABH tag.