The building construction department and the Patna Medical College and Hospital administration passed the buck on each other on Sunday over the ceiling collapse in operating theatre (OT) 4 on Saturday.
Two patients had a miraculous escape in OT-4 of the Rajendra surgical block, when a part of the ceiling plaster fell off along with a portion of the false ceiling while two surgeries were being conducted around 12noon.
The Telegraph had highlighted the abysmal condition of OT-4 in December, 2012, when a part of its ceiling fell off.
Blaming the building construction department and public health and engineering department officials for the incident, PMCH superintendent Amar Kant Jha Amar said: “I have informed the health department and the chief minister about the department’s callous attitude. They work at their own will. They don’t do important work. Instead, they do unnecessary work such as laying new tiles.”
Denying Amar’s charges, Chanchal Kumar, the secretary of the building construction department, said: “The PMCH administration has never written to us about the maintenance work needed there. They never gave us a priority list either. Based on the feedback of some organisations, we carry out work there. They cannot blame us.”
The patients, who survived Saturday’s incident, however, had a lot of complaints about the PMCH authorities.
“I was lucky that I was not hurt but there is no denying that a major accident could have occurred. I spotted many cracks in the false ceiling of OT-4. When the incident happened, I overheard all the doctors discussing that OT-4 was not at all fit for conducting surgeries ,” said Rajendra Prasad, a resident of Kankerbagh.
Sunil Paswan, the other survivor, had similar views.
Hospital sources said one of the probable causes of the ceiling collapse could be the old age of the building, built in 1956. On being asked, a PMCH doctor, wishing anonymity, said: “OT-4 is not in use now. It is being repaired, which will take at least three days. The load of surgeries has shifted to the other seven OTs. We will have to postpone many surgeries and patients are bound to suffer for this.”
He, however, added: “Though the PMCH administration has put all blame for the accident on the building construction department, the fact that it allowed surgeries in the dilapidated OT-4 makes it responsible too.”
“The building construction department whitewashed OT-4 from time to time but never carried out maintenance work, putting patients’ lives at risk,” said a nurse, wishing anonymity.
An orthopaedic, attached with PMCH, said: “The building, which houses OT-4, is a very old, built in 1956. Repairs and maintenance are hardly carried out. This kind of an accident was bound to happen. Over the years, unnecessary modifications, such as replacing the mosaic floor with tiles, have been carried out in OT-4. An ideal OT should have continuous smooth surface. The gap in the tiles allows dirt to accumulate and raises the chances of infection. There should be any false ceiling in an OT. An OT does not need beautification. False ceilings conceal cracks and damages in the actual ceiling.”
Doctors said the condition of almost all OTs is not good. “Most OTs are dilapidated. Visit OT-5. You can find water seeping from the ceiling, owing to which plaster keeps falling. There can be a rerun of Saturday’s incident in OT-5 any day, said a doctor.