Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash Hospital (LNJP), Delhi government’s biggest hospital, has implanted 11 expired stents in poor cancer patients over the past two years.
Though using expired stents is against the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the doctors implanting them claimed re-sterilising made them safe.
Esophageal stents are used to open blockages in the food pipe in people with esophageal cancer. They cost between Rs 40-50,000, but to poor people at government hospitals, they are provided free.
The last audit report of the medicine department at LNJP, a copy of which is with HT, shows that between October 2007-October 2009, expired oesop-hageal stents were used to treat 11 terminally ill-cancer patients.
“Since these stents are inserted in the food pipe, there is no need for culture tests for infection. We have an ethylene oxide steriliser at LNJP, which was used to sterilise these stents before implanting,” said Dr Amit Banerjee, medical superintendent, LNJP.
The hospital still has 103 expired stents in stock. “We will re-sterilise and use them,” said Dr Banerjee.
“Sometimes, expired stents can be used after culture tests confirm there is no infection, but ideally it should not be done,” said a senior doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.