BHU shocker.. Industrial gas used as anaesthesia, patients die

Varanasi, Oct 5: In a big shocker, a joint investigation team of the Centre and UP government, investigating an abnormally high number of deaths within just three days in the surgery ward of a hospital attached to the controversy-hit Banaras Hindu University, has found that industrial-grade gas, not permitted in medicine, was being used for administering anaesthesia to patients undergoing surgery. According to a report in “The Times of India,” at least 14 surgery patients had lost their lives between June 6 and 8 this year at BHU's Sundar Lal Hospital, prompting the Allahabad high court to order a probe. "It has been found that nitrous oxide of non-pharmacopoeial grade was being used at this hospital. This gas doesn't come under the category of allowed drugs," said the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration's probe report dated July 18, a copy of which is with TOI. Whether the use of industrial-grade nitrous oxide (N2O) was directly responsible for the deaths in the hospital is still under investigation, officials said. The report said Parerhat Industrial Enterprises, an Allahabad-based private firm which was supplying the nitrous oxide, did not have any licence to produce or sell any medical gas. The firm's director, Ashok Kumar Bajpai, is the father of BJP's Allahabad North MLA Harshvardhan Bajpai, who owns Rs 1.21 crore in shares in Parerhat Industrial Enterprises. The firm is part of the familyrun Parerhat group of industries that has interests in steel, chemicals, foundries, paper mills and solar power. 'Firm has no licence to produce N2O or oxygen' This firm's unit at 42, Industrial Colony, Chak Dawood Nagar, Naini, Allahabad has been issued no license by the food safety department of UP government to manufacture or produce any medical gas. Therefore the firm has neither license to produce medical nitrogen oxide nor oxygen," says an RTI reply by K G Gupta, assistant drug inspector, Allahabad, which is part of the report. Harshvardhan Bajpai, while admitted that his firm didn't have a licence to produce medical N2O, dismissed the charge that the gas had led to the deaths. "The same gas is being supplied to hospitals at King George's Medical University in Lucknow and Motilal Nehru Medical College in Allahabad.