Nurse gives gran toxin

2010-10-05 00:00

A SUNNYSIDE Park Home resident suffered severe medical complications after she was allegedly given formalin to drink at Grey’s Hospital on May 4.

The 79-year-old woman went to hospital for a knee operation. In the recovery room she asked for water and was given the chemical, which is used to preserve bodily organs.

“One nurse grabbed a jug containing liquid and gave it to me. I took one gulp and that was enough to almost knock me off my bed. I screamed because it felt like my mouth and throat were on fire,” said the woman.

She said doctors were “on top” of her in no time and gave her a litre of activated charcoal to drink within an hour. This is a charcoal solution to absorb toxins.

“It was awful, but there was little I could do because I was fading away.

“The next day the staff were worried when they noticed that I passed charcoal water as a stool.

“From the shock, I suffered a mild stroke and a heart condition,” she said.

She was kept in the hospital for more than six weeks for observation.

After she had been discharged she suffered a bleeding nose from time to time.

She throws up when she sees meat.

“When I see meat I imagine the body organs kept in the chemical I was made to drink and as a result I don’t eat meat,” she said.

Friends who visited the woman said she is “like a zombie”.

Carmen Erasmus, a church counsellor and community worker, said a friend phoned her to report the incident.

“When I got to the hospital she was a different person, really in a bad shape. I checked her folder and discovered that she was given activated charcoal. Her teeth had black stains from the charcoal. She was suffering and I encouraged her to hang in there,”said Erasmus.

A physician who declined to be named said formalin is toxic even in very small doses and can cause complications to the system.

“It is very hazardous for human health. It may even cause the patient to develop cancer and cause premature death. When swallowed, it can cause severe pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea,” said the doctor.

Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the department is committed to improving the quality of healthcare.

“What we need is to rejuvenate the spirit of service in government hospitals. Such incidents cannot be tolerated and we wish that the senior citizen and witnesses come forward and identify the nurse who did this,” said Maxon.

Formalin is a solution of formaldehyde that is used as a preservative or as a disinfectant.

— Wikipedia

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