A fortnight ago, Priya Karve (name changed) was rushed to a city hospital with severe dehydration. The 12-year-old diabetic patient’s insulin level had dipped severely.
Karve’s case confounded doctors because she had not skipped her insulin dose. It was later that they discovered that improper storage of the insulin vial, which Karve has to inject thrice a day, had rendered the hormone supplement useless.
“I found out that Priya was having tests in school and was keeping her insulin injection in her compass box. As the insulin was not stored at the right temperature, the injection lost its potency and led to an insulin deficiency,” said Dr Anil Bhoraskar, senior diabetologist, Raheja Hospital.
Dr Bhoraskar added that at least 2 to 3 % of his patients have suffered due to not storing their medicines properly. “Patients sometimes forget to keep the insulin in the refrigerator or keep in the deep freezer instead of the butter box. This can change the profile of the insulin,” said Dr Bhoraskar. While discharging patients, some hospitals have now begun specifying how their medication should be stored. Other medicines including some antibiotics, anti-fungal and cardiac drugs if not stored properly could turn risky. Some cardiac drugs need to be protected from sunlight and moisture. “Cardiac drugs such as nitrates which are used for emergency treatment of heart pain, if exposed to sunlight lose their potency and the patient may continue to suffer from heart pain (angina) despite its usage,” said Dr Rajiv Karnik, interventional cardiologist, Fortis Hospital. Nicorandil, which is also used for heart pain, loses its efficacy if stored at the wrong temperature. “At least a third of my patients are at fault while storing their drugs, mainly due to lack of awareness,” said Dr Karnik.
“Keep medicines in a cool, dry place, like a hallway linen closet, bedroom closet or even a kitchen cabinet away from the stove and moisture,” said Dr Phulrenu Chauhan, an endocrinologist, Hinduja Hospital.