Several hundred people surrounded the office of the Civil Surgeon (CS) in Nilphamari yesterday, protesting the use of expired intravenous saline on a number of female patients in Nilphamari Modernised Sadar Hospital on Saturday night.
The use of expired saline allegedly worsened the conditions of the patients at the 250-bed hospital.
The agitation, which was carried out by patients’ attendants, relatives and other locals, was withdrawn after the additional deputy commissioner (General) Azharul Islam, on behalf of the deputy commissioner, ensured that an inquiry committee would be formed to investigate the allegation and would punish those found responsible.
One of the affected patients Mallika Begum, 45, was taken to the hospital on Saturday night with chest pain.
Mallika’s son Sarwar Hossain, 28, said the on-duty doctor at the emergency ward asked them to get an electrocardiogram from the clinic outside the hospital. Under his directive, two senior staff nurses, Sharmin Akhtar Mim and Rokeya Begum, administered intravenous saline to her.
“As my mother’s condition worsened, I examined the saline’s expiry date and found that the product, of batch no 10117005 manufactured by The Acme Laboratories Ltd, had expired on May 2019,” Sarwar, who also went to the CS office to protest, said.
Promila Rani, mother of another affected patient Prianka Rani Roy, 14, said her daughter was admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pain.
“After the nurses administered saline, Prianka’s condition deteriorated as she began feeling further discomfort. We checked and found that the saline she was given was expired,” she said.
Five other patients of the female ward alleged the same and began protesting in the ward.
At the intervention of “local influentials”, the situation at the ward was brought to normalcy after the patients and their attendants were told that the matter would be taken to the CS the next day, attendants at the ward said.
At 12:30pm yesterday, several hundred people surrounded the CS office to demand punishment of those responsible for using expired intravenous saline.
The “influentials”, however, were not at the protest yesterday.
Medical Officer of the CS office (MOCS) Dr Abu Hena Mostofa Kamal told the protesters that the matter “was trivial as none of the victims died”. Shakibul Islam, one of the protesters, alleged.
This further agitated the protesters, who wanted clarification of such “an irresponsible remark” from the CS office, he added.
CS Dr Ranjit Kumar Burman then instantly declared forming a three-member departmental inquiry committee, headed by Dr Rezaul Karim.
“But we rejected the formation of a departmental inquiry team,” Shakibul said.
Speaking to The Daily Star, ADC (General) Azharul Islam said, “As the situation turned chaotic, a police team reached the spot. I then assured the protesters of forming a strong inquiry committee comprising representatives of all authorities concerned within 24 hours.”