Replace defective ventilators procured through PM CARES funds; can’t risk patients’ life: Bombay HC to Centre

Aurangabad Bench of Bombay HC said it will not permit "experimentation of ventilators" that have undergone major repairs, while treating patients

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The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Union government to ensure that defective ventilators procured through PM CARES funds were replaced with new functional ones before the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) could put them to use.

A Bench of Justices RV Ghuge and BU Debadwar clarified that it will not permit "experimentation of ventilators" that have undergone major repairs, while treating patients, since this would be causing "a risk/health hazard" to the patients.

"The use of such ventilators may cause loss of life, which should be averted," the Bench said, as per a Bar & Bench report.

The Court also conveyed that it expected the Union to be firm with the manufacturer in the event of supply of faulty ventilator.

"If we find it necessary, we would be directing the returning of defective ventilators," the Court added.

The Centre will take all steps to ensure patients are treated properly with ventilators, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh assured the Court.

"This Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is not adversarial litigation and the Union of India has every desire to ensure that patients are treated properly with the aid of ventilators," Singh said.

Chief Public Prosecutor DR Kale submitted to the Court minutes of the meeting held in GMCH to conduct an analysis of installation and operation of the ventilators.

This inspection of the ventilators pertained to the defective ventilators supplied by the manufacturer, Jyoti CNC from Rajkot.

The Court found from the minutes that:

--The ventilators had suffered continuous breakdowns even after repairs,

--There are 269 trained personnel in the hospital to operate the ventilators who are aware of the functioning of the ventilators, and


--Training and user manuals were provided at the time of deployment of the ventilators.

Kale added that since it was extremely risky to utilise the defective ventilators, GMCH Aurangabad declared that it would not use these ventilators until they are fully convinced that the ventilators are perfectly functional.

Another reason for not using the ventilators was that they did not have any repairing centres near their location.

It was thus suggested that it would be better if the manufacturer could carry the ventilators to their own repairing centres.

"The GMCH does not want to be blamed for a casualty, if it occurs on account of the use of such ventilators," Kale said.

Singh informed the Court that two senior doctors from Delhi will be visiting GMCH, Aurangabad on Thursday to carry out extensive inspection of the ventilators.

He asserted that "no casualty would occur" since the ventilators will not be made operational in the treatment of the patients till the two doctors and the manufacturers ensure that the ventilators are upto the desirable operational standards.

Citing the one year manufacturer warranty, Singh submitted that if they are found to be dysfunctional even after repairs, the manufacturer will be held liable and the Centre will press for replacement of such defective ventilators.

The Court directed the Centre to submit the details of the doctors' visit on the next date of hearing on June 7, 2021.

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