The Telegraph
Thursday , July 17 , 2014
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Hospitals fail antidote test

The state government is yet to make arrangements in its healthcare system that can save children from a tragedy similar to Gandaman.

Even after one year of the disaster that claimed 23 young lives, the administration has not provided antidotes for various types of poisoning to the government hospitals in the state. The meal tragedy had occurred owing to poisoning and timely administration of antidotes could have saved lives.

Things, however, have not changed much. A doctor at the sub-divisional hospital in Forbesganj said his hospital did not have many antidotes. He even claimed that antidotes are hardly supplied. “The antidote pralidoxime, commonly known as PAM, has not been made available at the hospital. PAM is a specific antidote for treating organophosphorus poisoning cases,” he said.

As to how they treat cases of poisoning, he said most of the times patients are asked to buy the antidote from the market and in some cases they are referred to other hospitals.

Dr Ranjeet Kumar, a doctor at the Vaishali Sadar Hospital, said they stocked PAM, atropine and neostigmine but no antidote for other types of poisoning. “We don’t have antidotes like benzodiazepine (used in ethanol and organophosphorus poisoning), cyaniade antidote, deferoxamine (used in iron intoxification) and others.”

If the district health units failed miserably in stocking up on essential antidotes, the ones in the city were no good either. The state’s biggest health hub, PMCH, too doesn’t have antidotes for all types of poisoning. A doctor of the premier hospital said: “Our hospital doesn’t have antidotes for cyanide and paracetamol poisoning though many such cases arrive at the hospital.”

The alleged laxity of the government can be gauged from the fact that the health department had initiated a process of making a standard operating procedure to tackle various types of poisoning cases but the plan has been shelved now. The department had contacted few doctors of PMCH last year for the purpose but the health department did not follow it up.

“If we are assigned to make a standard operating procedure, we would do it. The health department approached us last year but there was no follow-up. The department did not create a proper panel to execute the scheme and the plan was shelved,” said Dr Nigam Prakash Narayan, a paediatrician at PMCH.

Deepak Kumar, principal secretary, health, and Anand Kishore, secretary, health, could not be contacted despite several attempts. When this correspondent asked R.P. Ojha, additional secretary, health, why antidotes have not been not been made available at government hospitals, he did not have an answer and asked this correspondent to talk to some other official.