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Stinging silence on needle reuse probe

The probe on nurses caught reusing disposable syringes on Monday morning at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, ordered on the same day by the state-run hospital’s officiating director Dr S.K. Choudhary, has turned out to be nothing better than a verbal order.

On National Doctors’ Day, July 1, observed in India to mark the birth anniversary of Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, a day after the news of disposable syringes being reused on patients at the ICU of the medicine ward got leaked to the media, it was business as usual.

Choudhary, who had confirmed to The Telegraph on Monday that he had ordered a probe into the hazardous practice, had not released any formal instruction for probe in writing by Tuesday.

RIMS deputy superintendent Dr Basundhara, who discovered syringes being reused on her Monday morning rounds with her colleague Dr Raghunath Singh, on Tuesday said that she had no instructions related to the probe.

Verbally, Choudhary had asked Basundhara, Singh and senior nurse Vijayalakshmi to probe into the matter.

“Yesterday (Monday)’s findings were enough to indicate the importance of proper scrutiny of syringes used and in stock,” Singh went on to say.

Insiders, who don’t want to come on quote, said that a written probe on reuse of disposable syringes might implicate too many people, snowballing into a major crisis for the premier state-run hospital.

But the lack of a written probe order means no proper allegations would be framed and no investigation would be conducted to prove or disprove them. Hence, no showcase or disciplinary action will be taken.

To perhaps divert the issue of why no written order for a probe was passed, Choudhary touched on the issue of syringe destroyers. Of 18 departments at RIMS, six have devices to destroy used syringes.

But, no one can remember their use at RIMS recently.

“I did see some syringe destroyers here, but cannot remember when. I have not seen them for over a year now, maybe more,” said a senior doctor.

Confirming there were syringe destroyers at RIMS, Choudhary said: “Well, this is the point of the investigation. What happened to the syringe destroyers? Which departments have the device and where are they now? If they are not functioning, were any formal complaints made or not?”

Prodded on the written probe order, he only said: “Ho jayega (Will get it done).”