Mock drills at Karnataka O2 plants expose tech issues

Mock drills at Karnataka oxygen plants in hospitals expose tech issues

In Ballari and Vijayanagara districts, out of seven oxygen plants, only four are ready to use

A staffer operates the oxygen plant during mock drill at Sir C V Raman General Hospital in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Credit: DH File Photo/Pushkar V

Mock drills at the state’s 192 newly commissioned oxygen generation plants turned out to be an eye-opener as several districts reported issues with inadequate oxygen purity, pressure and concentration.

At Jayanagar General Hospital in Bengaluru, the concentration of oxygen did not go up to the required levels till around 4 pm though the mock drill started at 11 am. The drill went on till 6 pm.

“The old gas in the storage tank should be let out first and only after that, the tank should be filled up with oxygen. Our hospital staffer failed to do that. Ideally, concentration should be 93% to 96%, but now it has come up only to 90%. In the atmospheric air, oxygen is only 21%. The rest is nitrogen and other gases. Nitrogen is let out through a zeolite filter and oxygen is concentrated. This is then directed to the storage tank. Now it is picking up,” Jayanagar General Hospital medical superintendent Dr Ramakrishnappa said.

Also Read | 34 O2 plants yet to be commissioned in Karnataka

He said the oxygen generator had a capacity of 1,000 litres per minute. The hospital had received the equipment two months ago and wasn’t installed until now as civil works were going on. Patients were not affected as the hospital had liquid medical oxygen besides oxygen cylinders.

Patients shifted

Two oxygen-dependent in-patients were shifted to K C General Hospital beforehand as there will be a shut down of oxygen in the hospital on Wednesday for commissioning of their systems.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) oxygen connection will be given and we will be ready,” he said. 

Bengaluru District Health Officer Dr Srinivas G A, said, the oxygen generation plant at Yelahanka General Hospital did not work initially and showed varying readings of oxygen concentration.

“Sometimes the reading says 93, then 58 and then 66. The oxygen concentration should ideally be 93%. The plant capacity is 500 litres per minute. A biomedical engineer in Hyderabad was later consulted online and it was rectified,” Dr Srinivas said. 

The hospital has two liquid oxygen storage tanks of two kilolitres each that will take care of oxygen-dependent in-patients, he said. 

Scene at other places

In Ballari and Vijayanagara districts, out of seven oxygen plants, only four are ready to use.

District Health Officer Dr H L Janardhan said, “In the district hospital, there were issues with oxygen purity. It wasn’t coming up to 97%. In Hosapete taluk, there was inadequate oxygen pressure, which picked up later on. In Hoovinahadgalli of Vijayanagar district, there was inadequate pressure in the general hospital. There were issues with purity and saturation.”

Hospitals are currently using liquid medical oxygen in storage tanks or cylinders. After the dry run on Tuesday, biomedical engineers will be called to fix the plants before hooking up patients to the medical gas pipeline system connected to the newly commissioned plants.

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