Probe nails overdose in saline drip

The health care regulatory commission on Monday asked a nursing home to pay Rs 5 lakh in compensation to a patient who suffered neurological damage after a saline drip overdose, the prescription for which had been written by a Group D employee.

By A Staff Reporter
  • Published 20.02.18
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BBD Bag: The health care regulatory commission on Monday asked a nursing home to pay Rs 5 lakh in compensation to a patient who suffered neurological damage after a saline drip overdose, the prescription for which had been written by a Group D employee.

Kaberi Saha, 52, had spent three nights at MA Gani Hospital in Arambagh, Hooghly, in March 2017 for treatment of a urinary tract infection. A saline drip overdose during that period was found to be the cause of her subsequent neurological disorders that led to loss of speech and limb movements.

The patient's family had filed a complaint with the commission after an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in a Jadavpur hospital revealed damage to the pons region of her brain. Neurologists suspected that a high dose of saline was responsible for complications in a part of the brain that controls consciousness, speech, eyesight and limb movements, among other functions.

The prescription written by a Group D employee under the supervision of a doctor at the Arambagh nursing home mentions "13 per cent" saline, which does not even exist. The commission's probe report states that the prescription was for "3 per cent" or hypertonic saline, which Kaberi didn't need. A normal dose of saline has 0.9 per cent salt content.

When Kaberi's condition did not improve even after her second round of hospitalisation, her family admitted her to another nursing home in the city. She remained there till the family ran out of money.

"We will resume her treatment once we get the compensation amount," her son Sudipta, who works in a private company, told Metro on Monday after hearing of the commission's verdict. "My mother is unable to speak or do anything without assistance," he said.

Ashim Kumar Roy, the chairman of the West Bengal Clinical Establishments Regulatory Commission, said Dilip Sarkar, the doctor who had treated Kaberi in the Arambagh nursing home, and Tahidul Hossain Khan, the Group D employee, had admitted to the circumstances in which the wrongful prescription for saline drip was written.

Sarkar told the commission that he had dictated the prescription to Khan, mentioning "normal saline".

"Our doctor members went through the bed head ticket of the patient as well as the investigations that were conducted after her discharge from MA Gani Hospital and came to the conclusion that the damage to her brain cells was due to the overdose of saline."

Kaberi had been administered two bottles of "3 per cent" saline in the nursing home.

Saline of 0.9 per cent concentration is usually administered to rehydrate patients. Doctors prescribe saline drip with 3 per cent content when a patient's sodium level is very low, a condition called hyponatremia.

"The protocol is to administer 3 per cent saline when sodium level is less than 115meq/L. Kaberi Saha's sodium level was 124meq/L, so the high dosage of saline was not required," the commission chairman said.

Neurologist Jayanta Roy said a sudden increase in salt content in the blood could damage brain cells.