Precaution gone wrong?: ‘Polio vaccine, doctors’ negligence’ kills child

Parents claim drops had gone bad; say there was no staff around to help.

Shamsul Islam November 03, 2011


A precautionary measure went horribly wrong when polio vaccination administered to five-year-old Maryam ended up taking her life on Wednesday.

Immediately after she received polio drops a few days earlier, Maryam became paralysed neck-down. Watching the life drain out of their daughter’s limbs before their very eyes, Maryam’s parents rushed her to the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital Tandlianwala where doctors confirmed their worst fear – Maryam’s arms and legs had been “attacked by severe paralysis”.

“She started complaining of pain in her arms and legs right after she was given polio drops by a health department team,” her family members told The Express Tribune.

Maryam underwent treatment at the THQ Hospital for a few days after which, noticing that her condition was becoming more critical, Duty Officer Dr Arshad referred her to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital, Faisalabad. However, before she could be transferred, Maryam breathed her last at the THQ Hospital.

“My daughter died as a result of doctors’ negligence,” Maryam’s mother said. “We tried calling out for a doctor when Maryam started screaming in pain, but there wasn’t so much as a nurse available to attend to our child,” she said, adding, “We were told by a dispenser that the on-call doctor was ‘taking a nap’ and would come to check up on Maryam at 11 am … she didn’t hang on till 11 … she died before that.”

While her parents and relatives continue to protest against the negligence of doctors and the ‘flawed’ polio campaign that they say claimed their daughter’s life, Faisalabad District Health Officer Dr Asif Shehzad confirmed Maryam’s death, occurred at the THQ Hospital. “The cause of death, however, is yet to be determined,” he told The Express Tribune, although the initial investigation concluded that Maryam’s death was caused due to Cerebrospinal Fever, he added.

However, the allegations leveled against the staff and the vaccination will be taken into consideration, he said.

Medical Superintendent, Dr Muneer, on the other hand, told The Express Tribune “On October 31, Maryam’s parents took her away without getting her formally discharged. The hospital was, hence, unaware of her death.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2011. 


MarkH | 10 years ago | Reply

Well, I left something out. There are indicators of possibility but, it comes in the form of an unrelated already-existing health issue. So, it would be the provider and a grey area topic. They'd need to run unrelated tests before every vaccination and if they're low on funding, it's probably not a mandatory step in the process. That's the general area of where to look for deciding on whoever you want to blame.

MarkH | 10 years ago | Reply

It's Poliomyelitis. It's due to the type of vaccination they use and with that type of vaccination there is also no way to currently determine if the person is at risk beforehand. It's rare but, chances are, it wasn't the doctor's negligence. There's another vaccination option, though. So, if you want to blame anyone, you're going to have to blame whoever is in charge of deciding what vaccinations are provided for the doctors to use. That may not be comforting. But, that's how it is.

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