It was all chaos at the government civil hospital in Amravati in western Vidarbha when seven women, who had delivered babies and were recuperating in the maternity ward, fell sick after being administered phenyl instead of vitamin tonic on Wednesday.
According to reports, staff nurse Baby Pendam, who was meant to give the tonic, delegated the task to an attendant/cleaner Shobha Ingle, who did not realise that what she was administering the patients was lethal.
Pendam allegedly went out of the hospital in duty hours, after asking Shobha to give "tonic" to the patients.
The illiterate attendant, Shobha, gave phenyl to the patients, supposedly kept in an old tonic bottle.
Despite objecting to the smell, the patients were virtually forced to gulp phenyl. The patients immediately felt uneasy and fell ill.
Relatives of some of the patients informed the police, when the patients started vomiting immediately after consuming the dose.
Vaishali Wasule, who delivered twins at the hospital said, "She was not able to feed her newborns for at least 5 hours after falling ill." Vaishali was also forced to consume the phenyl.
She continued, "I resisted against consuming the vitamin as it smelt of phenyl. But the attendant said it was vitamin and was giving them on nurse’s instruction."
According to her, only seven patients consumed it, while others refused to have what the hospital staff kept insisting was a "vitamin tonic."
The district administration has taken the issue seriously and terminated the attendant Ingle and two nurses, Pendam and Vaishali Gaikwad were suspended from services.
"A three-member inquiry committee, headed by Dr Vilas Jadhav, has been constituted to probe the matter and asked to submit its report within the next three days," informed Dr CL Sonkusre.
The commissioner of police (CP), Amitesh Kumar, said that the Amravati police have registered offences under sections of 284 and 336 of IPC, for endangering life of patients and negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance.
"We have seized the bottle and investigating the matter," informed Bhaurao Kadam, the investigation officer of Gadge Baba Nagar police station.