Demands for Safer Needle Practices in India

If you use needles on a regular, or even fairly infrequent, basis to treat patients then you will of course no what good and bad needle practices are. Hypodermic needles are used once, for one patient, then safely disposed of. Surgical needles are sterilized between uses with specialist equipment in order to provide a safe experience for everyone involved. The process is important and something that is taught strictly and consistently in modern medicine.

There are however those who still break the rules, despite being fully aware of what they are supposed to do and the consequences that their failure to follow instructions can cause. A particularly well publicised incident occurred on Sunday the 1st of March this year; in which an astonishing fifty-nine children were given potentially dangerous injections.

It came to the attention of some parents that the nurse tending to the children’s ward at Niloufer Hospital in India, was injecting the children with Monocef, a commonly used antibiotic that the doctors had prescribed for most of the children present in order to treat infections. The children treated ranged in age from just three months to four years; the main issue was that one needle and one syringe was used to administer the medication to all of the children. Parents who questioned the nurse who administered the injections claimed that their questions were brushed aside and ignored, and that the nurse continued to administer the drug in this manner despite the objections of the parents present.

Many of the children were suffering from serious illnesses that could have been spread in this manner, including pneumonia, respiratory infections, diarrhoea, viral fever and other infections. The manner with which the needle was shared among the children could result not only in spreading these infections, but also causing hepatitis, bacterial infections and irritations. Signs of these were already shown by a number of the children involved, who developed rashes and experienced discomfort after having the injection. Most likely because Monocef is not to be injected directly but administered over a period of fifteen to thirty minutes using a saline drip.

This incident occurs just three days after the World Health Organisation urged India to use auto-disable smart syringes in their government hospitals. The WHO blamed unsafe injection procedure for the rise in Hep B and HIV cases. When questioned, insiders at the hospital claimed that the nurse was working without supervision due to the absence of the resident medical officer or the nursing superintendent; and it was this lack of supervision that caused the incident. The statement, as well as the reports of the nurse’s actions, suggests that a lack of training in nursing staff is to blame.

Dr. K Devaraj, hospital superintendent, has ordered a full enquiry and moved all of the children who are suspected to have been effective to the hospital’s emergency block. While he announced that all of the children were in a stable condition they are being monitored closely, and the Resident Medical Officer, Dr. J Krishna, who was allegedly absent from duty and the time of the incident, has been instructed to submit a report explaining the incident, following which action will be taken against those at fault.

The government has been warned that a reform of the government-run hospitals is needed, providing more training for nurses. There are also reports that suggest the WHO will be taking further action in order to convince India to implement the safety hypodermic needles, which automatically disable themselves after a single use, preventing needle sharing, in all of their government-run hospitals.


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Monday, May 16th, 2016 by Charlie Stelling About Us No Comments

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