Rescue 1122 has not denied that the medical equipment in its ambulances is not properly sterilised, in its response submitted to the provincial ombudsman to a Young Doctors Association (YDA) application.
The YDA had submitted to the ombudsman that the equipment in Rescue 1122 ambulances was not properly sterilised before reuse and could spread diseases like hepatitis B and C and HIV.
In its response to the application, Rescue 1122 did not deny this.
“The Punjab Emergency Service is providing free of cost pre-hospital care to victims of emergencies … the staff is trained as medical first responders to provide basic life support to victims. Therefore, they are not involved in surgical intervention,” states the reply, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune. The response was prepared by Ali Hasan, the head of the Law Wing of the Punjab Emergency Service.
“The service welcomes the suggestions [of the YDA] in the best interest of the public at large and for the betterment of the service. The suggestions contained in the complaint have been noted down and necessary steps shall be taken accordingly,” it reads.
Dr Khuda Bakhsh Dreshak, the YDA Mayo Hospital General Sectary and the complainant in the case, submitted another statement in response, saying that Rescue 1122 ambulances used laryngoscopes; stitching equipment like forceps, needles and sutures; artery clamps and scissors; and amputation kits and other equipment that needed to be sterilised using gluteraldehyde.
In his original application, he suggested that a container of gluteraldehyde should be installed in each ambulance so medics could quickly sterilise instruments by dipping them in the chemical.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr Dreshak said that the Rescue 1122 response was vague and avoided the issue. “There are contradictions in the statement. First they say they aren’t involved in any surgical interventions and then they say they will take necessary steps to follow the suggestions submitted by us,” he said.
Rescue 1122 Provincial Monitoring Officer Yahya Butt said that the emergency service was “thankful to the YDA for pointing this out”, but they were observing proper sterilisation procedures.
“We have asked all district offices to properly sterilise their equipment and autoclaves are being purchased. We use surface disinfectant after every emergency to sterilise the ambulance. The spray of surface disinfectant even sterilises the air in the ambulance and is an accepted method of sterilisation,” he said.
However, he dismissed the suggestion in the YDA application for gluteraldehyde containers in each ambulance. “If we keep a box in the ambulance the chemical might fall on the floor as ambulances go on rough roads as well,” he said.
An official at the Ombudsman’s office said that the next step in the case would be to invite the YDA member for a personal hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.
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