Three years on, hospital wakes up to expired supplies

Sep 21, 2011, 09:04 IST | Priyanka Vora

In 2011, Cama authorities inquire into 2008 incident, when nurse found ultrasound jelly, which was well past its use-by date, in facility

Three years ago, a nurse at Cama and Albless hospital, city's only public facility exclusively run for women and children, found that the ultrasound jelly in the hospital supplies, which is used for sonography tests of pregnant women and children, was expired. Lying unused for over two years, it had eventually passed its use-by date.

Now, in 2011, the hospital authorities have woken up to the incident. This month, an enquiry was initiated into the matter; it is underway.  

Better late than never: A senior doctor at the Cama and Albless Hospital
says if the nurse had not laid her eyes on the expired bottles of ultrasound
jelly, they could have been used and patients might have had to suffer. File pic

The incident came to light in 2008, after a nurse (name withheld on request) joined the radiology department, and found that five boxes containing 25 bottles each of the jelly applied before a patient undergoes an ultrasound, were long past their shelf life. Yet, they were lying in the department. The nurse, new to the ward, then immediately alerted the authorities, who recalled the expired items.

Said a senior doctor from the hospital requesting anonymity, "If the nurse had not laid eyes on the expired bottles, they could have been used, and patients might have had to suffer." He added, "Usually, these items are kept in the medical store and not in the department. This way, the store in-charge can distribute it to other centres before they expire, thus avoiding wastage."

Ideally, each department of the hospital has to submit their requirements, and accordingly, they are provided with medications and related items. Contrary to the usual scenario in public hospitals, where staffers whine about non-availability of supplies and essentials, the radiology department allegedly piled up the ultrasound jelly bottles and the items expired. Incidentally, an average woman undergoes an ultrasound procedure at least three times throughout the pregnancy.

The Other Side
While questions are being raised about why the authorities sat up to take notice now, the authorities are tightlipped. 
The hospital superintendent, Dr Rajshri Katke, who opened an inquiry this month, said, "It is an internal matter and we are just inquiring
into it."
She refused to comment further.

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