Wrong diagnosis, medicine killed Bihar kids

Wrong diagnosis, medicine killed Bihar kids

Many of the 23 children who died after consuming poison-laced midday meal at Masrakh in Bihar’s Saran district now appear to be victims of wrong diagnosis.

According to sources, many students who were rushed to hospitals could have been saved had doctors made them vomit instead of treating them for presumed diarrhoea.

However, they were instead administered medicine that kept the poison in them, leading to their death.

When the children, who complained of acute stomach pain and vomiting, were rushed to Masrakh primary health centre (PHC), Dr Qayum Ansari, the medical officer present there, administered them an antiemetic drug, assuming that the children were suffering from diarrhoea. This proved fatal.

The children, who had consumed the meal, should have been made to vomit more so that the poison could be discharged.

“But the doctors did the opposite by administering an antiemetic, a drug which, instead of allowing children to throw up more (which could have reduced the impact of poison), stopped their vomiting,” said a Patna-based paediatrician who did not wish to be named.

“An antiemetic is a medicine against vomiting and nausea and is given to children suffering from diarrhoea or food poisoning,” he added.

Forensic reports

Even though the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report has confirmed that it was monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound used as insecticide, no probe report — either by the Saran Commissioner or the FSL — has pointed out these mistakes committed by the government doctors on that fateful day.

Dr Ansari, who was initially under the impression that it was food poisoning, admitted that the wrong drug was administered that day when the first batch of children was rushed to the PHC.

“Initially, when five children were rushed to the PHC, I thought they were suffering from diarrhoea. I administered an antiemetic,” said the medical officer.

“When more children with similar symptoms were brought, I thought it was a case of food poisoning. I continued with the antiemetic. Till then, I had no idea that it was a case of organophosphoros poisoning. When the civil surgeon pointed out the lapse, I immediately administered atropine, which is an antidote given in case of poisoning,” added the medical officer.

But by that time, it was too late. Some children died while being rushed to Chapra hospital, others while on way to Patna. And worse still, many died even after reaching Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH).

“Administering the antiemetic compounded the problem. When someone has consumed poison, he/she needs to be made to vomit. But if his/her vomiting is stopped forcefully with medicine, chances are that the poison will spread to the entire body. And this is precisely what happened that day,” said child specialist Dr Nigam Prakash, who was part of the core team which took care of the affected kids at Patna Medical College and Hospital.  

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