False alarms regarding oxygen shortage should not be made by hospital management as they disturb the system and unnecessarily strain the already stressed government machinery, the Delhi High Court said on Wednesday and laid down guidelines on when such SOS ought to be raised.

The court said that when a hospital has oxygen stock of six hours or less, it should first contact its supplier.

If no action is taken, then it should be escalated to the nodal officer and if even then no supply is received and stock is good for only around three hours, then the amicus curiae, senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao or senior advocate Rahul Mehra or Delhi government additional standing counsel Satyakam can be contacted, it said.

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The bench made it clear that the said lawyers would not be contacted without first making an attempt to get supplies from the designated supplier or refiller.

“Even earlier, we have observed that false alarms should not be raised regarding supply of oxygen by management of hospitals. Such alarms, which are false, disturb the complete system and put unnecessary strain on the already stretched government machinery,” a bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli said.

The order came while hearing the plea of a patient admitted at IBS Hospital in Lajpat Nagar here who claimed that the management circulated a message saying they do not have sufficient oxygen and would have to start discharging patients.

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However, when the court asked the Delhi government to look into the matter, one of the officials handling oxygen distribution in Delhi said the hospital management informed him that they had sufficient oxygen for 24 hours.

In view of the submission made by the official, the bench said it was not going to interfere in the matter and laid down the guidelines about raising alarms and making SOS calls.

The amicus, during the hearing, said there was a need for more hands on deck to attend SOS calls at night.

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About this, Mehra said the Delhi government plans to have a dedicated number with several lines for handling SOS calls and it will be made operational soon.