| A saline water bottle that carries July 2006 as the expiry date. Telegraph picture
Bokaro, Oct. 27: An embarrassed Bokaro Steel Plant management today constituted a three-member committee to inquire into how 31 bottles of expired saline water were supplied to the emergency ward of Bokaro General Hospital. The detection late last night led to a law and order problem and an intervention by police and civil surgeon.
The committee has been asked to submit its report within 24 hours, said a BSL spokesperson, while the health department is learnt to have rushed its own team of officials to look into the scandal. BGH, which with 1,140 beds is said to be among the largest hospitals in eastern India, has enjoyed an impeccable reputation so far.
A BSL spokesperson said the committee comprises B. Dhal, GM (HRD), Dr S.K. Verma, joint director, health services and P.R. Balasubramanian, DGM. BSL has also asked for a report on the procurement, storage and distribution of medicine, on which the subsidiary of SAIL (Steel Authority of India Ltd) spends crores every month.
The “expired” bottle of saline water, apparently supplied directly by an Indore firm, was first noticed by relatives of a two-year-old boy, Roshan, who had been admitted in the trauma ward around 8.30 pm with serious head injuries.
Fifteen minutes later, relatives noticed the label on the bottle specifying the expiry date as July 2006 and manufacturing date as 2002. They raised an alarm, following which other patients, too, checked up and found the other saline bottles in the ward, being administered to other patients, also showed that they had expired.
The agitated relatives began demonstrating and roughed up a few hospital personnel. Police were informed and the subdivisional officer of Chas, Xavier Herenz, and the civil surgeon also rushed to BGH and seized the bottles before sealing the storeroom at the hospital.
Doctors professed to be shocked at the development and Dr N. Choudhary of BGH told The Telegraph that use of expired saline water and medicine can be highly damaging for the patients, especially young children. In any case, he added, the expired medicine etc., lose their potency by the expiry date and obviously fail to be effective.
A fresh controversy broke out on Friday amid reports of a cover-up when it was discovered that the seal on the storeroom was broken open early in the morning by a magistrate. There were also allegations that the medicine stock was replaced or the incriminating batches were taken away.
Bokaro deputy commissioner Amarendra Pratap Singh confirmed that he had directed the seal to be opened at 11 am today in the presence of the SDO, the civil surgeon and the media. He also claimed to have ordered an inquiry to find out the circumstances under which the seal was broken earlier. Disciplinary action would be initiated, he said, against erring officials.
The civil surgeon, Dr P.N. Pandey, said the SDO or the magistrate had not taken him into confidence before breaking open the seal this morning.