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September 3, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Hospital VP axed after ER fire, death

THE vice president of a Shanghai hospital was sacked and the president was given an administrative warning after a patient was abandoned by surgeons and died when thick black smoke engulfed the operating room.

The two punished were Chen Aidong, the vice president who was in charge of the firefighting issues, and Fang Yong, the sanctioned president.

The Shanghai Health Bureau doled out the penalties to the top officials of the No. 3 People's Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

The bureau blamed the hospital's poor firefighting management and a lack of planning for the medical staff's poor response to the emergency.

The 48-year-old man was undergoing surgery to amputate his right leg on the night of August 24 when fire broke out in an empty operating room next door. Doctors started operating on the man, surnamed Zhu, at 7:30pm, an hour after his arrival from a car accident. He was the only patient having surgery in the 10-room unit at the time. He was under general anesthesia when fire broke out about 9:45pm.

Thick black smoke quickly engulfed the room. An anesthesiologist left the room to call colleagues for help. He couldn't return due to the thick smoke.

The two surgeons stayed in the operating room to try to close the patient's open incision. They were the last to leave, crawling on the floor to find enough air to breathe. They left the patient who was on a respiratory machine and they reckoned he could be left for some 30 minutes in safety.

The fire had caused a power failure and the emergency supply had kicked in.

The investigation found the doctors couldn't simply pull Zhu out of the room because he was connected to a respiration machine. He would also have died if he'd been removed from the respiration machine.

Doctors attempted to move him out of the room but the braking system of the surgery bed broke down during the power failure and the bed wheels were stuck.

An autopsy found the patient was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, almost certainly coming from the smoke, a bureau official said.

The hospital has promised to take all responsibility for Zhu's death, while the compensation so far was unknown.

In light of the accident, the bureau said local health authorities will carry out a citywide fire prevention inspection. Key targets will be operating rooms, intensive care units and emergency rooms.

Another focus will be major areas and air cleaners, officials said.


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