Indore’s MY Hospital fire: Petition seeks action against negligent authorities, compensation


Anjali Anand V Medical Education Department WP-20605-2017 On November 23, 2017, the new-born care unit on the second floor of Indore’s M.Y. Hospital in which 47 infants were kept on ventilators caught fire. The babies were suffocated and four or five children were critically injured in the accident, while one infant died. The fire was attributed to a short circuit in the hospital’s wiring. In a report the next day, an article in The Times of India said that the hospital staff relied on only two fire extinguishers to douse the flames that emanated from the new-born care unit. HRLN Indore filed a petition in the Madhya Pradesh high court, alleging gross negligence in the maintenance, administration, security and management on part of the hospital. According to the petition, another lethal fire accident had taken place in the operation theater of a newly constructed OPD building in the hospital in August. However, the hospital authorities did not take the fire hazard seriously even after this incident. The petition made note of the poor electrical system in the hospital that posed a hazard for the health of its patient. There is a single line in the hospital for all electrical load, whereas there must be three: for electrical equipment, air conditioners, lights and fans. Maintaining the electrical system and checking for faults is the responsibility of the hospital administration and the public works department (PWD), both of which failed its duty. Exposed and unearthed electrical wiring can also be seen all over the hospital premises, which are a safety hazard as well. A fact-finding mission conducted by HRLN found that the hospital puts additional load on its electrical system by putting more than one child on the same ventilator, since it admits 40-80 more children above its capacity. This was done without regular load tests being conducted by the hospital and PWD to gauge the overheating in the ventilators and to maintain them properly. In addition, the hospital had no emergency exits to allow patients to escape in an emergency, which added to the chaos on the day of the fire. Considering that M.Y. Hospital is the biggest hospital in the state, and is in vicinity and affordable range of city residents as well as many people from nearby districts, the petition prayed for the court to direct the hospital to install efficient fire alarm systems, train its staff with regular mock drills to equip them to deal with such emergencies, and to prominently display emergency exit signs. It also sought a judicial enquiry into the incident and for appropriate action to be taken against all parties responsible for the negligence that caused the fire. It also asked that a compensation of Rs 20,00,000 be paid to the parents of the deceased child and Rs 15,00,000 be paid to injured infants. In response, the court gave the state two weeks’ time to file NoC obtained from the fire department, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) approval for operating X-ray machines, and biomedical waste certificate which may have been obtained from the concerned authorities for M.Y.Hospital.