AIIMS fire fallout: Trauma centre suspends admissions, may remain affected for a month

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Published: March 25, 2019 6:41:51 PM

The AIIMS, in a statement on Sunday said at around 5:45 pm smoke was noticed in one of the stores adjacent to the OT on the ground floor.

Several surgeries scheduled for Monday were postponed due to the non-functional OT, sources said.

Admission of patients to the emergency department of the AIIMS Trauma Centre here, the biggest such facility in the country, is likely to be suspended for over a month after Sunday’s blaze rendered the operation theatre complex non-functional, hospital sources said Monday. Several surgeries scheduled for Monday were postponed due to the non-functional OT, they said. On an average, 25-30 emergency surgeries are performed at the five major operation theatres of the facility, named Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre, on a daily basis.

“New admissions cannot happen because of the non-functional OT complex. Patients who suffer trauma injuries or accidents come here and are emergency cases, mostly requiring surgery. “Four to five emergency surgeries scheduled for Monday, that could not wait, are being performed at the main AIIMS facility. Rest of the surgeries, based on priority, would be performed over the next few days,” one of the sources added. However, the outpatient department of the facility is functional and the patients coming for follow-ups are being treated, they said.

Unaware of the development, several patients who arrived at the hospital for treatment were sent back or referred to the main AIIMS hospital, besides Safdarjung and RML hospitals. Dharma Khatri, 47, was one of them. He said his son fell down at home and suffered back injury. “We brought him to the AIIMS trauma centre, it being the best. But after reaching here, we learnt they are not taking new patients. We faced a lot of difficulties in bringing him. He is in tremendous pain. We are now thinking of taking him to Safdarjung,” said Khatri, who had come from outside the national capital. Though the extent of the damage to the OT complex has not yet been ascertained, the engineering team which inspected it Monday has estimated the repair would take at least two months as two out of the five major operation theatres were charred, a source said.

He said all OT linen and cotton got burnt and some instruments have also been damaged. Meanwhile, the hospital administration is trying to set up an OT on the first floor of the Wing A, which was dismantled few months ago due to renovation work on the floor, to perform admitted surgery cases. “The first floor was to be renovated to make five more operation theatres and one OT which was functional was dismantled couple of months back. That might be started for the time being to cater to the surgical needs of the admitted patients,” a senior doctor said.

The doctor said the first, fourth and fifth floor patients who were shifted to disaster and casualty areas last night have been shifted back to their wards and everyone is safe. Some of the recuperating patients were discharged in the night itself. A woman guard and an employee of the fire unit of the trauma centre, who suffered Carbon Monoxide poisoning during the blaze, are being treated at the main AIIMS and their conditions remain stable, a source said. The emergency department of the hospital witnesses a footfall of an average 250-300 patients per day.

According to hospital sources, two patients in separate operation theatres (OTs) had undergone surgeries just half-an-hour before the fire broke out and were at the OT recovery rooms. At the nick of time, the alert staff and doctors quickly shifted them to the emergency area. Around 50 patients from different floors of the JPN Trauma Centre’s Wing ‘A’, located above the operation complex, were moved out as smoke engulfed the floors. They were shifted to other wards. The electricity supply was also stopped in the building at that time, the sources added. There was also a leakage in the oxygen supply pipe due to which the supply to the building had to be stopped twice, each for around 30 minutes, during which the patients on ventilator were managed manually by the doctors, they added. The pipes which had got burnt were repaired and the oxygen supply restored.

The AIIMS, in a statement on Sunday said at around 5:45 pm smoke was noticed in one of the stores adjacent to the OT on the ground floor. The fire safety measure automatically kicked into action. No patients or their attendants were in anyway harmed or injured due to the incident. There has been no injury to the staff as well, it said. Police from the southwest district were also called in to control the crowd, which had gathered in the hospital vicinity, while the traffic movement on the road in front of the AIIMS Trauma Centre was disrupted for a while, a police official said.

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