Three patients died after an hour-long power cut at a multispecialty hospital in Bhopal that is treating COVID-19 patients, sources have said. After the power cut at 6 pm on Friday, the backup generator maintained by the Public Works Department (PWD) did not work and power was restored only at 7 pm, they said.
The unit at the state government-owned Hamidia Hospital affected by the power cut houses the COVID-19 treatment team, and trauma and emergency care.
The hospital administration said no one died as a result of the power failure.
Sources, however, said the condition of two patients on oxygen support worsened after the power cut as the medical equipment - high-flow nasal cannula or HFNC - did not have independent power backup. The ventilators too stopped working after a few minutes due to interruption in power backup, the sources said.
One of the three patients who died was Akbar Khan, 67, a two-time Congress councillor.
A PWD sub-engineer posted at the medical college and hospital has been suspended and is under investigation, sources said. A notice was also issued by the state government to the dean of the medical facility.
The hospital has 390 beds with oxygen support for COVID-19 treatment. Of the 150 intensive care units, 57 were occupied on Friday.
"This is a serious lapse... The budget to run the backup generator was fully allotted. Diesel and other equipment needed to run the generator were also available. After the power cut, the generator worked for about 10 minutes but unfortunately stopped. Power was restored within an hour," Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang told reporters.
"The PWD engineer who was tasked with generator maintenance has been suspended... This incident should not have happened. The Chief Minister has asked for a report and sought swift action against the guilty. The hospital administration has said no one has died due to the power cut. Their ventilators had power backup, there's a three-tier system in place," Mr Sarang said.
The Congress targeted the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government over the incident. "The Madhya Pradesh government should take full responsibility for the incident instead of punishing a small employee. The minister should take personal responsibility," state Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said.