RAWALPINDI - No mercy is being shown for poor patients in the government-run hospitals as substandard syringes are being used in the outdoor patient departments (OPDs) and emergency departments of three teaching hospitals in the city, causing immense nuisance to patients, thanks to the apathy of Punjab Health Department (PHD).

The use of substandard syringes in three teaching hospitals including District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and Holy Family Hospital (HFH) have triggered grave concern among thousands of patients while no body is taking notice of the worried situation.

Though the high-ups of AHs and some employees, working in laboratories and taking blood samples of the sick people for conducting various kinds of medical tests on suggestions of doctors to diagnose the deceases, claimed that the syringes being used in Allied Hospitals (AHs) were approved by Drug Testing Laboratory (DTL), yet reality is something different.

The paramedics have to use two to three syringes for a patient to obtain blood samples as most of the time the syringes do not get blood of the patients in one attempt, causing severe pain to the patients.

With no attention on the part of brigade of pharmacists, deputed in hospitals against huge perks and privileges, use of such substandard syringes raised question mark on the credibility of testing system in the main laboratory in Lahore as well as the capabilities and performance of hospitals administration. Asim Kayani, a patient who has been suggested blood CP test by doctors of BBH, told TheNation on Saturday that the syringe gave him immense pain during the course of taking blood sample by the paramedic to examine it. He said that paramedic pierced three syringes into my arm to get the blood but all the time the syringes could not be filled with blood. When asked from the paramedic, who was not ready to be named, as to why the patients were complaining, he said, “Yes, he is right in saying the syringes are faulty and second-rated. We often use two to three syringes to get blood of a patient.”

In HFH, a female patient Nazia Bibi, who is expected and has been asked to conduct HB test from the laboratory, also expressed her anger over the repetition of several syringes by paramedics to take blood sample. There should be good quality syringes in use in the hospital so that patient could save from pain, she said.

“The needle of the substandard syringe was very sharp and it inflicted excruciating pain in my arm,” said Navid Ahmed; a patient belonged to Chakwal who arrived at DHQ for medical tests. A laboratory in-charge of one of the three hospitals, while sharing his views, said that it was not in his knowledge whether the syringe was approved by DTL or otherwise. We use the syringes, which were supplied by the medical store of the hospital and he returned whatever was found not up to standard, he added.

A drug inspector told this reporter that products of two companies were sub-standard in quality. However, the firms were still on the list of qualified bidders of the hospital administrations and district health department. He also told two months before, the central office of RMC placed order to the suppliers for the syringes without involving the Medical Superintendents (MSs) of AHs. “As per rule, it is the MS of the hospital who orders for syringes” he added.

The products of the pharmaceutical firms registered with the health department cannot be found in the open market, he added. He said that among the bidders, there was no multinational. Sources in medical sector said that the hospital administrations did not but buy syringes and other medical instruments from multinational companies as they did not offer huge commission. The patients and their attendants demanded immediate removal of substandard syringes from hospital stock besides holding probe into supply of these syringes. Dr Afzal Farooqi, acting principal of Rawalpindi Medical College (AMC) and Chief Executive AHs, during an interaction with this scribe, said that matter of use of substandard syringes in teaching hospitals was not in his knowledge.

He said that he was tackling many issues facing AHs such as medicine shortage and cleanliness. “I will also see in the matter on priority basis and take action against the buyers of such syringes,” he pledged.