Hospital administers expiry date drugs – Loses its day in court

  • Posted on: February 25, 2021

This case is a learning for hospitals on two important procedural aspects – first, in maintaining systems to keep a check on expiry dates of medicines, to ensure that they are discarded and not administered to patients. Second, taking improper consent or adding / removing anything from consent forms can be inferred as fabrication.

The patient was referred to this higher centre with a serious and grave grade III diffuse axonal injury. His condition was extremely critical. He was discharged after some days and unfortunately, he succumbed to the injuries few days later at another hospital.

The patient’s family sued the higher centre and alleged that expired injection Kneon was administered and an expired ventilator was also used. Moreover, an improper consent was taken while discharging the patient.

The hospital vehemently opposed the allegations and stated that the drugs and ventilator were not expired. The clerk had made an error while entering the details – an expired batch of medicines were returned to the supplier and a fresh batch was received. However, the clerk inadvertently entered invoice details of the earlier expired batch, claimed the hospital authorities.

It was further stated that even if it was presumed that the injection and ventilator were expired, it was impossible that they’d cause patient’s death. At best, medicines lose its’ potency after expiry date and does not turn into poison! The patient was brought in a very critical condition and best care was provided, which was evident from the fact that he survived fifteen days.

Rejecting hospital’s defence, the Commission stated the following: “A perusal of all these bills reveals that injection Kneon and HME filter used by the hospital were of expiry dates. It is in violation of provisions of Rule 65(3) and 65(4) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945”.

“Mistake while making entries could have been done in one or two bills but it is not believable that in all the bills such a mistake has been committed inadvertently”.

“A perusal of consent form reveals that it is a typed version on which signatures of some persons have been put. The body is typed one way but signatures and details of persons, who signed it are in the handwriting and after that again it is typed. It means that this document has been prepared subsequently. If the attendants were asking for discharge the same could have been in their own handwriting. As such, this is a forged and fabricated document and cannot be relied upon”.

The hospital was held negligent and ordered to pay a hefty compensation.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 30th October, 2020.