A state-run hospital in India, Gandhi General Hospital located in Hyderabad, has suspended two nurses, for allegedly administering expired injections causing at least 12 children to suffer from bouts of seizures and vomiting.

An inquiry of the issue is in progress, however, the hospital and health officials have denied the allegations.

Children developed fever and chills

According to the family members, the children were injected with amoxicillin clavulanate and potassium clavulanate antibiotics from expired vials at around 7.30pm on 25 March to treat bacterial infections and fever. However, within 20 minutes of the injection, the children started vomiting and some had sudden seizures.

After receiving several complaints from the parents, the duty doctor took precautions were taken to control the reaction. Those who were suffering from pneumonia and neurological problems were shifted to the ICU for stabilisation while others were taken care of in the ward.

On the other hand, a senior paediatrician under anonymity said, “Amoxcylav is known to cause these reactions in patients who are allergic to these antibiotics. The reaction in all the 12 children could be if the same needle was used to give the injections. To control the reaction, steroids and antihistamine drugs are given to the patient.”

Expired vials found in the ward

“After the doctor gave an injection to my grandson, he suffered loose motions and began vomiting. He was also unable to move his limbs,” said Rahmat Bano, grandmother of Junaid Ahmed, one of the victims.

“We came here for better healthcare, but negligence by hospital staff has left us shocked,” she said.

The case sheet stated that the children were to be given Amoxcylav but that other vials of sodium sulphate were found in the paediatric ward had an expiry date of 2011 and 2016. Hospital authorities said, the drug supplier, Uttaranchal-based Maxmed Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd. is currently under investigation.

Even though the administration claimed only 12 children were affected, the parents said the number of kids who fell ill was more than what was reported.

"The nurses who administered injections did not even check the expiry date on vials. My son suffered from diarrhoea, high fever and vomiting soon after the antibiotic was given," said Shailaja, mother of Zohail, one of the children whose name was missing from the list.

External inquiry is underway

According to Telangana’s health minister, Dr Laxma Reddy, “When the director of health and medical education Dr M. Ramani carried out an initial inquiry, there were ‘no’ from the nurses. For this reason, they have been suspended.”

The health minister mentioned that another external inquiry will be carried out on three doctors from Niloufer, Warangal and Nizamabad Hospital.

“If no wrong was done, their suspension will be revoked. But we want to send a strong message that wrong steps will not be tolerated,” said Reddy.

Meanwhile, Ramani denied allegations and claimed the antibiotics injected were not supplied by the state government.

“The stock given to us comes with a stamp, 'Telangana government supply' and also has a 'not-for-sale' seal. We smell a plot as vials displayed by parents are not from the government stock,” said Ramani.

Ramani said an external inquiry is in progress and a report would be submitted on Monday evening. While the doctor on duty, Naveen Singh, was issued a memo, the staff nurses Shobha and Sunita will remain suspended and be quizzed by the external probe committee.

He added, “We receive over 4,000 people, including patients and attendants on daily basis. Crowd management at the hospital is getting difficult and we will soon impose restrictions on number of attendants with every patient.” MIMS

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