It has been revealed that at least two more children were mistakenly given an anti-cancer drug at a Shanghai hospital, a day after doctors admitted giving the drug to a four-year-old boy.
Two girls, aged four and eight, were given cytarabine, a drug intended to treat acute leukaemia and acute lymphoma, instead of a run-of-the-mill anti-viral drug by a doctor at Xinhua Hospital.
It is believed the same doctor, who was training at the hospital, gave all three children the wrong drug. The hospital said the mistake was due to the drugs having similar Chinese names in the medicine database. However, parents of children at the hospital questioned this explanation.
One father, whose daughter was being treated for mumps, said he thought the doctor had no idea what the anti-cancer drug was for, “Because he also prescribed the anti-cancer medicine, a cytarabine injection, by handwriting on my child’s medical record.” The eight-year-old girl, injected with 200 milligrams of cytarabine, started to vomit and developed a fever, her white cell count was later found to be dangerously low. Not only was she treated with the wrong drug, but she was given a dosage of it equivalent to that which would be prescribed to a 100 kilogram (220 pound) adult.
Chemotherapy drugs are basically poison, a necessary evil used to treat otherwise deadly cancers. To prescribe them to healthy patients is incredibly negligent and potentially life-threatening. The hospital justified the week long delay in telling parents of the mistake on the grounds that staff “were afraid that the parents might lose control if informed of the bad news in a timely manner”.
There were over 17,000 violent incidents targeting medical staff in 2010, affecting 70 percent of hospitals across China. 92 percent of doctors surveyed described their jobs as entailing “great risk”.
[Via: Chinese Medical News]