A shortage of tetanus injections at the Lahore General Hospital (LGH) has put many patients at risk, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Doctors claim that patients treated at the Emergency Ward and the Outpatient Department (OPD) are not administered tetanus injections, administration of which they say is a standard procedure to treat patients with open wounds.
An LGH doctor, speaking to The Tribune on the condition of anonymity, said “The situation has been continuing for at least two weeks. Patients who ask about tetanus injections are told to purchase them. They are not told to get the injection if they do not mention it themselves.”
Another doctor at the hospital said, “Having a shortage of injections is one thing but not reminding patients to get the shots is quite another. It’s playing with their lives. Hospitals do run short of some medicines but risking people’s lives is what is happening here.”
Some doctors in the Orthopedics Department claim that there is shortage of equipment. A doctor in the department said, “The films used for X-rays aren’t available and patients are being asked to bring those from outside. A common X-ray is being delayed for this reason. There aren’t any megnavist and omniscan injections which are administered to patients before an MRI. Poor patients are thus being denied the free MRI test and told to go get the injections first.”
“The hospital administration is making tall claims about its performance these days. Seminars are being organised and money is being spent on them. Medicines, however, aren’t being bought on the pretext of lack of funds,” said another LGH doctor.
Professor of Medicine at King Edward Medical University (KEMU) Dr Irshad Hussain Qureshi said if tetanus injection were not administered to the wounded patients it could have serious consequences. “Firstly, patients who get injured on roads or get deep wounds and are not given tetanus injections may suffer lockjaw. They get fits and during those fits cannot breathe. Quite often they have to be put on ventilator to keep them stable.
The patients are curable but the mortality rate is quite high as we don’t have dedicated wards to treat tetanus patients here,” he said.
LGH Medical Superintendent Dr Muhammad Hasan said the hospital was short of funds. “We need Rs2.89 million for various things and have forwarded a proposal for the money,” he said. Dr Hasan said tetanus injections were short in the market but LGH had some in store. “We haven’t run completely out of tetanus injections. For films or injections for MRI we don’t have funds,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.