'Hospitals choking beds': Delhi HC directs COVID facilities to give info on daily admissions, discharges of patients
The court also said hospitals should learn from their experiences regarding oxygen scarcity during the prevailing pandemic and set up plants for generating the life-saving gas
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Saturday directed all hospitals in the National Capital to provide information on daily admissions and discharge of COVID-19 patients and of those admitted for over 10 days, since 1 April. A concern was raised in the court regarding the optimal utilisation of ICU and oxygenated beds and ICU beds in hospitals and nursing homes across Delhi.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, which held a four-hour-long special hearing on a holiday on various issues relating to the COVID-19 situation, said it appears there is choking of beds taking place in hospitals and nursing homes.
"Looking into the dearth and shortage of beds, particularly oxygen beds and beds in ICU, we consider it necessary to have this aspect looked into as there are allegations of malpractice of patients not being discharged despite having recovered from the COVID-19 disease," the bench said.
It said, "We direct the medical superintendents/ owners/ doctors of all hospitals and nursing homes, including those of Delhi government, Centre and private, to place details of the number of COVID-19 patients admitted and discharged each day from 1 April."
They shall also give details of the number of patients who have remained hospitalised for 10 days or more and the type of bed occupied by them from 1 April. The bench said the details shall be emailed by 4 May to amicus curiae and senior advocate Raj Shekhar Rao who shall combine the information and place it before the court on 5 May.
It also directed the Delhi government to forthwith update its portal about admission and discharge of COVID-19 patients from hospitals and to also keep it updated daily without fail. It said the number of hospital beds available on the portal shall separately show how many of them are oxygenated and non-oxygenated.
"From what has emerged, it is well known that one who contracts COVID-19 , takes about 10-14 days to recover in the normal course... about 10 percent of them require hospitalisation and 1 percent of the total affected persons are likely to require greater medical intervention and admission to ICU," the court noted.
Delhi government counsel Satyakam submitted that in Delhi, there are a total of 20,938 beds for COVID-19 patients as of date in all hospitals in Delhi and the data include non-oxygenated, oxygenated, ICU beds.
To this, the bench said looking at this number, every day a substantial number of beds should become available for the patients, but that does not appear to be happening. The patients who require hospitalisation with oxygen support should normally be in a position to leave the hospital within 8-10 days subject to the condition unless it worsens and requires ICU, the court said, adding that in most cases, COVID-19 resolves itself in 10 days to two weeks with medicines.
"However it appears that there is choking of beds taking place in hospitals and nursing homes," the bench said.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, showed an office order by the Directorate General of Health Services on the new discharge policy and also a document of the medical director of LNJP Hospital which stated that patients are staying in hospitals beyond seven days.
"Therefore, all unit heads and consultants are requested to discharge patients as per the revised discharge policy of the government so that more lives can be saved. Stable patients whose oxygen saturation is more than 91 percent may be shifted to GNEC, Shehnai banquet and Rouse Avenue School," the hospital order said.
Meanwhile, the court also said hospitals should learn from their experiences regarding oxygen scarcity during the prevailing pandemic and set up plants for generating life-saving gas.
It said for commercial considerations, some hospitals reduce capital expenditures on things like oxygen plants which are essential in a hospital, especially the big ones, and it is irresponsible not to have such plants. Mehra also informed the court that a hospital in the name of Gandhi Hospital on Friday made a false statement that it has not received a single oxygen cylinder for the last 48 hours, despite getting various.
The hospital's owner submitted that there was some miscommunication between the management and their lawyer and there was no intention to make a false statement. The court warned that such false claims shall not be made in future, particularly at this time as it wastes time and takes away the time of the administration which is dealing with the situation on a war footing.
Regarding a plea by a group of lawyers including Bar Council of Delhi chairman Ramesh Gupta seeking arrangement for treatment of lawyers contracting COVID-19 , Mehra said they were working on it and something positive will come up by Monday.
Another plea was mentioned by Dwarka Court Bar Association president YP Singh seeking to make operation Indira Gandhi Hospital in Dwarka, which has been under construction for the last eight years and near completion now, which could accommodate 1,700 beds.
The court asked the government to take instruction on this and apprise it with the development.
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A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh said some of the pleas appeared to be filed on ideas that came to the petitioners' minds while 'having tea or walking on the road'
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