But they might have to put up with negligence in the bargain. An employee of the Western Railway who took free medicines a few days ago from the Jagjivan Ram Hospital at Mumbai Central was shocked to learn later that six of the strips had expired last month.
The WR employee who discovered the medicines recently underwent a kidney transplant. He said, “I was generally examining the medicines one day and suddenly found that the expiry date had already passed in January. I had brought more than 20 strips of medicines, out of which six had already expired last month,” said the complainant.
He said that he would lodge a complaint with the concerned department. He added that he has to take medicines worth over Rs 15,000 every month, and each of the strips costs Rs 400. “It’s very irresponsible on part of the hospital. Lakhs of railway employees whose only resort is the railway hospital are in danger because of this. Very few patients take the trouble of checking expiry dates,” he added.
According to the staffers at the hospital and the railway employees, this is not the first time this has happened. “In many instances in the past, medicines have been circulated after their expiry dates have passed. Many employees don’t check the expiry dates before they consume the medicines, and so never come to know about this,” said a hospital employee, on condition of anonymity. He added that cases have been registered in the past after patients suffered reactions to the medicines, but no action was taken.
Ajay Singh, secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh, said, “They should first check the medicines and then hand them over to the railway patients. The patients get it free from the railway hospital, but that doesn’t mean that the authorities will give anything to them. We will be having discussion on this and need answers for this.”
The other side
Dr Bharat Dhareshwar, managing director of the hospital, said, “I will enquire about this and also make sure that the concerned persons are punished. There is a proper procedure for the storage of medicines.” Sandeep Silas, divisional railway manager, WR, said, “If I get a complaint from the employee, I will definitely raise this matter.”