Make prescription must for oxygen cylinder sale: Doctors
HYDERABAD: It’s not just beds and staff, city hospitals are running out of oxygen cylinders too, courtesy panic buying by people. With the market swept clean of its stock — largely by domestic users — the medical fraternity is now mulling using industrial cylinders to replenish the requirement in city hospitals.
Highlighting the crisis at an emergency meeting held by the state government with the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Telangana Nursing Homes and Hospitals Association (TANHA) and medical suppliers, doctors suggested the sale of oxygen cylinders, without a prescription, be stopped immediately.
“According to suppliers there is no dearth of oxygen (it’s available in big tanks). The real problem is with cylinders. While earlier, these were used only for medical purposes or mountaineering (smaller cylinders) now even individuals are buying in bulk — 5 to 10 cylinders at a go — saying they are asthma patients or work for an NGO,” said Dr Sanjeev Singh Yadav, state secretary Indian Medical Association Telangana.
Dealers charge double the MRP for oxygen
He added: “After much deliberation, we decided that we can hold the supply of other products such as carbon dioxide etc to industries, clean out the industrial cylinders and use them to supply oxygen to hospitals.” He also reiterated that suppliers have asked not to entertain individuals without a doctor’s prescription.
The cost of an oxygen cylinder starts from anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 and goes up to Rs 15,000 or more depending on capacity. With the shortage, many say, some dealers are charging double the price.
“A 7,000 litre (B type) oxygen cylinder which was previously available for Rs 4,000 is now being sold for Rs 8,000,” said Dr Sai Ravi Shanker, a senior consultant cardiologist explaining how the rise in demand — at least by 10% — despite supplies remaining the same, has compounded the problem. “All ICU beds are occupied with Covid-19 patients driving the requirement upwards,” he added.
“Though some private hospitals are staring at a shortage, the problem is more acute in government hospitals where the system of placing orders for these things is not streamlined,” said T Hari Prakash, president, TANHA.
Dealers confess the rush is unprecedented, with many healthy people also approaching them for cylinders.
“I get at least 350 to 400 enquiries every day. Even those not infected by the virus are keen on stocking them. Many are renting them out for Rs 5,000,” said Mohammed Shareef from the Auto Nagar Oxygen Centre.