Mumbai: The Maharashtra government in an internal audit has found that the state has thrice the number of COVID-19 patients on oxygen support than that of the national average. The audit also depicted that hospitals have also put those patients who are mildly ill and for more time than necessary.
The data from the Union health ministry suggest, 5 to 6 percent of active COVID-19 patients are on oxygen support and require treatment in ICU across country.While in Maharashtra, 15 percent of active patients are on oxygen that makes it three times the national average.
The state Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas on September 18, wrote to all districts raising, ‘serious concerns over the quantum of oxygen being used in Maharashtra per day’.
The health department has now directed hospitals to use oxygen upto 7 litres per minute per patient in normal wards and 12 litres per minute in intensive care units (ICU) per patient apart from foxing pipeline leaks.
The letter stated- ‘There may be tendency on the part of private hospitals to put patients on oxygen for duration more than necessary, may be for commercial reasons. We need to monitor such activities scrupulously’.
The excessive use of oxygen for Covid-19 patients may exhaust state’s supply soon, the official added. There are many problems regarding the supply of oxygen cylinders to remote part of Mharashtra su h Marathawada and also the North Maharashtra. These districts do not have major manufacturers to quickly supply medical oxygen.
Maharashtra has the capacity to produce 1,210 metric tonne of oxygen per day. Currently, there is demand for 868 metric tonne for medical and industrial purposes. Of this, 600 metric tonne is utilised for medical purposes. In Maharashtra, the largest manufacturers are Inox Air Products and Linde India. They produce over 800 metric tonne and are located in Mumbai, Pune, Raigad belt and Nagpur. The regions like Latur, Beed, Osmanabad, Jalna and Satara are suffering from oxygen shortage.
According to official data, the state currently has 2.91 lakh active COVID-19 patients, the health secretary said that of these, at least 1.08 lakh have been discharged but their information has not been updated on the government portal.
Meanwhile, in the letter, Vyas slammed administratives of Thane, Nagpur and Pune for not updating their patient discharge data. This “is unnecessarily bringing the state under criticism”, the letter stated.
As per the new directives each district has to list its oxygen demand based on the number of COVID-19 patients and take a review of those who do not require oxygen support.
However, this decision has not gone down well with private doctors. For instance, Dr. Jignesh Thakur, radiologist from Mumbai, said a patient sometime may require more oxygen then 12 litres.