Two infants died and 32 were hospitalised after they were vaccinated at a primary health care center in Hyderabad. A case of negligence has been filed against the doctors and staff involved, police said.
Ninety two babies were given pentavalent vaccine at the primary health care centre at the Nampally Urban Health Centre on Wednesday. The parents, however, alleged the health workers at the centre gave them opioid tablet - Tramadol - instead of Paracetamol.
The parents were told they should use one-fourth of the tablet in case of fever and the medicine could be repeated after a few hours. The strip was cut into single tablets, making it difficult to identify the medicine, they said.
"Everything was fine with my four-month-old baby till Wednesday evening. But then, her condition deteriorated. By 11 pm, we panicked and brought her to this hospital. That saved the baby's life," Jayshree, one of the women who admitted her child to the Niloufer hospital, told NDTV.
Thirty-two babies - aged between two and 16 months - have been hospitalised at Hyderabad's Niloufer Hospital. They are said to be suffering with respiratory distress, among other complications. Three of them were put on ventilator, and 12 others were admitted to the emergency ward.
Meher Fathima, a nurse at a private hospital, said her brother's firstborn - a two-and-a half-month baby- suddenly fell ill on Wednesday. "How can a healthy baby suddenly fall ill? We have huge expectations from government hospitals. People come from far off places. What can we do if they are careless? Already two babies have died and many are in critical condition.''
Dr Ravi Kumar, head of Pediatrics department at Niloufer Hospital, said doctors worked overnight to save the infants. "We were forced to put three babies on ventilator due to respiratory distress after overdose of opiod."
Doctors say Tramadol is never used in pediatric care. So it is surprising why it was stored along with other medicines at the urban health care center.
Dr Sujatha, a pediatrician at the hospital, said an antidote was given to the babies to reduce the effect of opioid poisoning. "Opiod can cause respiratory distress and seizures. It can cause cardiac problems too. For infants, the renal (kidney) system is not able to cope up in such a case.''
A similar incident was reported last year in Sircilla, about 140 km away from Hyderabad. Babies vaccinated for MR (Measles-Ruebella) were given Tramadol instead of Paracetamol, which resulted in a death.
A panel at that time had recommended that Tramadol should not be stored in primary or urban health centre but it seems no lessons were learnt after the incident.