Sunday, December 28, 2008


Sometimes the investigations conducted by the Newspaper journalist are proved to be very beneficial. That is what exactly happened few days before in Hyderabad.The investigation conducted by the Times of India group revealed that some city hospitals are often making unethical ‘compromise’ using medical equipment that as per Law should be disposed after single use.

CANNULAE or CANNULA are plastic tubes that come with a ‘single-use device’ label and are used to drain or inject fluid into a patient’s body. But these devices are being reused by some hospitals, and when asked, they gave a reason that patients may not be able to ‘afford’ new ones.

However, these cannulae are sterilized before ‘reuse’ so that no trace of bacteria remains in them. “After gas sterilization there is no chance of any infection passing on to the next patient…” a cardiac surgeon said.  Though some medical experts also agree that gas sterilization is a fool-proof method, it doesn’t wash away the chances of infection among patients.Open heart surgeries, plastic surgeries, liver transplant are some of the procedures where this practice of using used cannulae is rampant. The senior officer of city hospital said, “The cannulae used for these surgeries are very expensive. A single piece of cannula can cost of between Rs. 2,000 – Rs 3,000. So, the use of new cannulae escalates the cost of surgeries upto Rs. 50,000 and many patients may not be keen on spending so much”.The most interesting fact of this part is that, even the smaller surgeries are not spared from this unethical practice.

Even a slight mistake on their part could cost the patient dearly. Moreover, if a patient is shelling out Rs. 1 lakh for a surgery, would he mind spending Rs 50,000 ore if he is told it is for his safety? Peoples never compromise on their treatment, that’s why they come to the hospital in the hope for better facility.

The ‘reuse’ practice can lead to serious infections such as HIV, and sources in the health care sector note that other curable infections do occur among patients. It can be treated with antibiotics but this could lead to a longer stay of the patient in hospital and fat medical bills. I think, this is main reason that why the hospitals are using the same cannulae for the patients in order to get more medical bills in the name of medicines and admittance.

Since CANNULAE are inserted into the vien or artery of the patient for the direction of intravenous fluids and medicines, or into the nose for the delivery of oxygen, the reuse of such devices is declared ILLEGAL as per THE DRUGS AND COSMETICS ACT OF 1940. This was done after these devices were put in the category of ‘DRUGS’ in 2006.

Health activists feel that patients opting for a surgery should at least be made aware of the two kinds of cannulae (new and sterilized) and allowed to choose for themselves.

But what do the law enforcers have to say? Officials of the Drug control authority admit that such violations are taking place in hospitals.It is punishable act and can lead to minimum one year imprisonment of the erring doctor, provided it is reported.

However, who can monitor what is happening inside the operation theatre? Even if the Doctors are reusing a cannula on the patients, who will bring them to book………?



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