Pharmacists charged with manslaughter

Two pharmacists in Gujranwala have been charged with criminal neglect which led to a woman’s death.

Shahid Munir December 17, 2010

GUJRANWALA: Two pharmacists of the Social Security Hospital in Gujranwala were charged criminal neglect leading to a woman’s death on Wednesday. Both have gone in hiding.

Iqbal Begum, a resident of Farid Town, was brought to the hospital with low blood pressure. She was discharged with a prescription. The family said that when they gave her the prescribed tablets her condition worsened. They said they brought her back to the hospital where she died. They alleged that Iqbal Begum died due to the negligence of pharmacists and doctors. The family accused the pharmacists of giving the wrong medicine to the woman. The prescription, they said, mentioned Calcin tablets but the pharmacists instead gave her Calan, which lowers blood pressure.

The hospital administration, however, said that there was no evidence of negligence. It formed a three-member inquiry committee to probe the matter.

Following her death, the family staged a protest at the hospital and broke glass windows by pelting them with stones. The protesters dispersed after the Model Town deputy superintendent of police, Qayum Gondal, reached the scene and assured them of action against the guilty. He registered a case against the pharmacists, Akmal and Yaseen, under Section 319 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The medical superintendent of the hospital formed an inquiry committee to probe the allegations. The committee consisted of senior doctors – Dr Ammar Kaleem, Dr Javed Mughal and Dr Tahir Bhalar. MS Ijaz Kazmi directed the committee to file a report within 48 hours.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Kazmi said that there was no evidence of negligence on behalf of the hospital staff. He said Iqbal Begum was a hepatitis patient and initial medical examination suggested that her ailment was not curable as her liver had shrunk in size. The family contended that she was not in a critical condition when they brought her to the hospital. They said that she was suffering from a liver disease and on Wednesday her blood pressure suddenly fell, after which they brought her to the hospital. Kashif, Iqbal Begum’s son, said that the doctors and pharmacists were responsible for his mother’s death. “They gave her wrong tablets and the doctor did not bother to check the medicine,” he said. He alleged that the hospital administration was threatening them to not pursue the matter.

Deputy medical superintendent Abdul Rahman Alvi, however, rejected that the administration was threatening the family. He said that they had initiated an inquiry and would soon ascertain the facts of the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2010.

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