NICVD uses date-expired stents on heart patients

HC orders investigation

Tapos Kanti Das, M Moneruzzaman and Ahmed Shatil Alam

The High Court on Thursday temporarily banned the use of date-expired stents on cardiac patients in any hospital of the country until the matter was disposed of by the court.
The court order came after it was found that date-expired stents were inserted into the arteries of heart patients admitted to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases causing grave risks to their lives.
Cardiac experts said that the use of such date-expired stents could cause severe heart complications and even death.
The court also asked the director general of health directorate to constitute a three-member committee headed by him to investigate the allegation of putting expired stents into patients in the institute.
The committee was asked to submit a report to the court in a month.
The court also asked the director general of health directorate and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and Hospital to explain why trade in such date-expired stents and its insertion into the cardiac arteries by the NICVD should not be declared illegal.
The court decided to issue further order on the matter on March 1.
The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Mohammad Saifur Rahman passed the order on suo moto taking into consideration a report broadcast on private television Channel 24 on Wednesday.
Health secretary, DG health, inspector general of police, and director of heart institute have been asked to respond to the court order.
The stents were inserted into the hearts without knowledge of the patients, alleged relatives of some of the patients who received the stents provided by the hospital in past two weeks.
The hospital insiders said that about several dozen date-expired stents were still available in the store, which might be put in the hearts of poor patients. They said that the dates of the stents expired in May last year.
A stent is a small mesh tube that is used to treat narrow or weak arteries by
placing it in an artery as part of a procedure of treatment for blocks in the artery.
National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases director Abdullah Al Shafi Majumder on Tuesday admitted that surgeons, including himself, on some occasions used such stents in patients.
He said that the stents were mesh tubes having a ‘two-year shelf life which did not mean the stents expired after two years.
The NICVD director said he did not find any harm in inserting the stents in patients’ hearts even after expiry of the ‘shelf life’. ‘We sterilsed the stents before using them, so it would not be harmful,’ he said.
He said that the stents were donated by several organisations to NICVD a few months before expiry of their ‘shelf lives’.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University cardiac surgery professor and chief surgeon Asit Baran Adhikary said that the date-expired stents could cause severe damage to hearts and even the patient’s death.
Freedom fighter Md Rafiqul Islam Sardar, who was admitted to NICVD on January 22 with severe heart complications, said he two stents, including one from the hospital, were put in his heart on January 24, but he had no knowledge about the stents.
Rafiqul’s son-in-law Md Salahuddin said, ‘We applied for a stent for the patient from the hospital, which are usually given to poor patients for a token money of Tk 5,000 and the hospital did it. But later we came to know that a date-expired stent had been inserted into the patient’s artery.
According to the documents obtained by New Age, two stents were set up in Rafiqul’s heart, including one provided by the hospital. It was made by a German company, the ‘shelf life’ of which had expired in May 2014. The label of the pack containing the stent read ‘2 years shelf life’, manufactured in June 2012 and the date of expiry being May 2014 and lot number 13000007.
Sources in the hospital said several dozen such stents still remained in the store. ‘The market price of the stent is about Tk 40,000 per piece and they are given only to poor patients.’
They said that the hospital was also using some date-expired stents made by a US company.
Asit Baran Adhikary, however, said it was unfortunate that NICVD had given date-expired stents to patients.
Terming it a ‘crime’ and ‘unethical,’ Professor Rashid-e-Mahbub, former president of Bangladesh Medical Association said, ‘It is unbelievable. How a doctor, eventually the director of a specialised hospital, could be so unethical.’
BMA secretary general M Iqbal Arslan said, ‘A responsible physician cannot do it.’

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