How Safe Are Our Hospitals?

Globally, every fifth fire-related death takes place in India and this is happening till date. Fire can affect anyone, at anytime, and anywhere. Hospital fires can be devastating in terms of loss of life, injuries to patients/staff, and loss of property/equipment, more so because hospitals house a large number of vulnerable people (old/sick/disabled/pregnant/children, immunocompromised, on life support, and incapable of moving). People losing lives at the altar of cure, is a saddening tragedy leading to several health, economic, and social ramifications.

In the recent past, several fire incidents have been reported all over the country, to name a few, at Nagpur- covid hospital centre (WELL Treat Hospital), Bhandara- Government hospital – Baby nursing centre, AIIMS – New Delhi, SAL Hospital – Ahmedabad, SMS Hospital – Jaipur, LNJP Hospital – Delhi, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital – Siliguri, Shine Children Hospital and Gandhi Hospital – Hyderabad, SSG Hospital – Vadodara (2019), ESIC Kamgar Hospital – Mumbai, Kakinada Government General Hospital (2018) – Andhra Pradesh, RML Hospital – Farrukhabad, BRD Medical College – Gorakhpur (2017), SSKM Hospital – Kolkata, Medical College Hospital – Murshidabad, GTB Hospital – Delhi, Guntur Government Hospital – Guntur, and SUM Hospital – Bhubaneswar (2016). Some of them involved considerable loss of human life.

Note: All sources are obtained from the publishes articles in news paper and online media– India all categories news papers and online data available.

Majority of the hospital fires are electrical, caused due to overloading, short-circuit etc.

The electricity load on the day of commissioning a hospital almost doubles from when the facility is designed, and it further goes up nearly 25% annually. No hospital or authority ever estimates correctly, at the time of licensing, the patient load, how many machines it will have, and the required safety checks. The situation is worse in government hospitals where a sheer number of people overwhelm the resources in no time. Over a period of time, minor repairs, haphazard extensions, and replacements might cause some wires to come in contact with each other or create short-circuit, which may result in very high current flow through wires and cause fire.

 

Most of the short-circuit-related fire gutted the air-conditioning unit in areas such as intensive care unit (ICU) receiving ventilator support, X-ray room, incubator of neonatology unit, paediatric ICU, children’s ward, dialysis ward, operation theatre, and biomedical equipment’s storeroom. Sometimes, these places have equipment such as ventilators with heavy and fluctuating power load, making them vulnerable for short-circuiting. Oxygen enrichment of air is primarily responsible for many fires.

 

In view of this, the following suggestions can be made:

  1. Hospital infrastructure designs:
  • Intelligent building design to assure hazard prevention, risk mitigation, assurance of life safety, property protection, and continuity of operations and functioning. 
  • No hospital building should be put to function unless a building utilization (BU) certificate is obtained from a competent authority. Similar certificates should be obtained for electrical fittings, lifts, etc
  • Regulations as per the National Building Code should be adhered to and NOC from the concerned Fire Department should be obtained before operationalizing the hospital and should be renewed annually

 

  1. A disaster action plan: Includes four points which are rescue, alarm, confine and extinguish. For firefighting, standard operating procedures should be prepared and prominently displayed with assigned roles to different persons, with their contact details.

 

  1. Regular Periodic Training plan: Regular training plan named as AMC- Annual maintenance contract to authorised licencing agency of all the staff and mock drills for rapid safe evacuation should be carried out.

 

  • An alarm system with a public address system in the hospital to inform everyone about the emergency/disaster must be in place. It may not work in case of electricity failure; hence, it must have a power backup. Suitable linkage with nearby hospital (s) is a must to avoid delay for the treatment of critical patients

 

  1. A simple solution for electrical accidents leading to fire is to estimate proper load and keeping some buffer before operationalizing, not to make too many changes to the electrical circuiting, and, if any alternation is done, capacity of the wire used should be kept in mind. Indian hospitals need to make several changes in the arrangement of equipment and practice of handling O2gas, as well as create awareness among hospital staff, doctors, and administrators.

To know more and avoid for any such disaster get the help of professional – Contact to +91 7720003124 Email ID: customersupport@omkarfirewise.com or Visit- www. Omkarwise.com

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