Hospital administers expired medicine to patients in Vanuatu

On the 14th of October 2017, Port Vila resident and former VNCW office bearer and a very strong women’s advocator, Manina Packete was admitted to Vila Central Hospital.

Her children living in Australia when notified of the severity of her health condition flew down from Sydney on the 21st of October. Valencia Packete posted on Yumi Toktok Stret of the day a Vanuatu doctor admitted inside a Vanuatu Hospital that expired medicines is being administered to patients in Vanuatu hospitals.

For so long the Vanuatu people have claimed that their health system especially through treatments has not been helping at all and that a lot of times this is due to the expired prescribed medications being administered to the Vanuatu people.

The Packete family story is a strong call to the Vanuatu Government to demand the World Health Organisation – WHO to explain to the Vanuatu people why they authorize expired medicines for use in Vanuatu Hospitals.

This is the story-unedited as posted by Valencia Packete:

“Like anyone else who have had to deal with their loved ones ridden with illness and bed bound in hospital, it was just heartbreaking. The condition of the Port Vila hospital is a whole other story but anyway she is our mother and we as her children are without a doubt desperate to be by her side and so we made our way to the hospital as soon as our flight from Australia touched down. The securities were lovely, they did their job accordingly and were incredibly understanding.”

“1:30am of Sunday 22nd of October was when we got to the hospital, and It was then that we realised the extent of our mother’s condition. We trusted she was in great care and we stayed with her for an hour before we left to get some sleep. Upon our return in the morning, the state of my mother just seemed to have gone from bad to worse. Whilst assessing her, we realised that she was given a whole lot of medication, some through the cannula and some oral. Her veins have collapsed and she was barely eating. The pain sustained every time she was administered a medication through the cannula was almost unbearable, but we told ourselves, she needed it. Her hands were about 5 shades darker from the tip of her fingers to her elbow. It was almost like they were someone else’s hands. She wasn’t getting the medication into her system properly. Anyway after a few attempts,that was temporarily sorted.”

“Monday the 23rd, the doctors did their rounds at 8am. The results of some biopsy came back and we were able to relax a bit. Even thereafter, she was still pumped with medications, no definite diagnosis, they tested her for the suspicions of TB.”

“Tuesday 24th October, we were told she was TB free. Again she was still pumped with medications. Reason being they were using these medications to basically see if she would respond to any and or if any would eliminate part of the problem. Again still no diagnosis.”

“Wednesday 25th October I was fed up of the medications administered to her without a diagnosis, so I got my brother to go ask our mother’s treating doctor to write down all the names of the medications that were given to our mother, how much were given, what for and the expiry dates. My brother only came back with the names of the medications and how much was given each time and informed me that he was told by our mother’s treating doctor that one of the medication-(CLINDAMYCIN an antibiotic) administered to our mother was expired. I was obviously quite furious about that.”

“On thursday late afternoon was when we were finally able to touch base with our mother’s treating doctor. She owned up to authorising this expired medication. I expressed my anger and disappointment over the fact that she authorised this expired medication to be administered to our mother without consulting either our mother or us. According to her, they do it all the time, infact she had only just given this same expired medication to another one of her patient.”

When I asked if this was the norm there, she said “yes they have been giving patients expired medication for over 12months” these medications were donated and that she had no choice but to give it to our mom. I was disgusted and appalled by what she had just informed my brothers, my mother and I. She realised she should have checked with us before she authorised this medication. She said she would not blame us if we choose to pursue a law suit. I scolded her! No amount of money could ever compensate the life of our mother had she lost her life due to her neglect!”

We have since went to the chemist to get her a proper script which seemed to have made an incredible difference in our mother’s healing progress. From Thursday to Saturday that week, we were happy to see a positive change in her health. The progress continued till Thursday 2nd of November when our mother was finally discharged from hospital. Her care is being continued from home.

“My dilemma is if these medications were donated, were they in date? If they weren’t in date, then who is responsible to authorise the acceptance of these medications. Who is responsible to uphold a certain standard of doctor patient care?”

“Part of the practice is to always uphold the duty of care to patients. Does politic play a big part in how these doctors make the call to authorise these expired medication? Who gets the last say in what the patients take? It doesn’t take a brain scientist to know any product with an expiry date, especially one to be consumed, like medication should not be used in a health facility, let alone administered to patients. Where is the duty of care?”

“If this has been a normal practice for over 12months in the hospital, then how many people have fallen victims to these expired medications because a doctor decided to throw their duty of care out the window and neglect the need of their patients?”

“In my view, Vanuatu is too small to have a statistic of whether or not expired medication works on patients. It is appalling to play Russian roulette with people’s lives. I am addressing this issue with formal process and avenues. Someone needs to be accountable for this.”