Lack of adrenaline injection at Gauteng hospital scares patients | City Press

Lack of adrenaline injection at Gauteng hospital scares patients |  City Press

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital is one of the Gauteng hospitals that is experiencing a shortage of adrenaline injections

Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo image


Brian Kubheka’s worst fear was that he would arrive at the hospital and there would be no stock of the adrenaline injections he relied on for his chronic heart condition. His anxiety has grown worse since the announcement this week that Gauteng public hospital is experiencing a shortage of this life-saving drug.

Adrenaline injection is used to revive people who have had heart attacks and in other life-threatening medical emergencies.

Doctors at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital have been trying for months to alert officials to the looming shortage as contracted company Pharma-Q doesn’t supply enough adrenaline, according to Jack Bloom, DA shadow MEC for health in the province.

Bloom said the doctors, who cannot be named, had expressed their frustration and concern to him when they noticed a shortage of injections.

READ: Lack of drug supply at the hospital makes it difficult for Gauteng patients.

Pharma-Q blames weight lifting for its failure to supply adrenaline.

Kubheka, from Ekurhuleni, has been living with chronic heart disease for more than five years and suffers from palpitations and anxiety due to his permanent heart disease. He said he was dependent on ACE inhibitor drugs, Bumex and Amiloride for his condition.

“With the situation in a public hospital, should my system become immune one day and it decides not to respond to my normal medication and I am rushed to the hospital, if there is no adrenaline injection I may die,” said Kubheka.

He added that public hospitals and clinics always ran out of most of his chronic medications, leaving him and other patients without private medical assistance desperate “to die while waiting for drugs to be delivered to the hospital”.

The 45-year-old says he has been going from one clinic to the next, because that’s how he gets his full set of medications. Kubheka said:

I have been turned away several times at Far East Rand Hospital and Pholosong Hospital in Ekurhuleni because those are the two facilities closest to me. Even the elderly sometimes return home without their medicines and it has become normal for the staff and us patients.

Bloom said the DA was particularly concerned about the adrenaline shortage in public hospitals. He said, poor drug supply chain management from pharmaceutical companies to suppliers was the main problem. Hospitals paid suppliers late or didn’t pay them at all, exacerbating the situation.

READ: There is no shortage of medicines yet

This causes delivery delays [of medicines] and of course stock availability in pharmacies and clinics. Again, patients suffer because unreliable companies are chosen for essential medical products. We need quick solutions to adrenaline shortages, but the real problem that needs to be fixed is poor procurement practices that are often tainted by corruption.

Doctor Anne Naidoo, said the deficiency could be dire in the case of an emergency such as a heart attack, which requires speed to react.

Naidoo said:

We as doctors are very frustrated when we have to resuscitate a patient in an emergency and we run out of essential medicines. A patient dies and it’s very frustrating when you know as a doctor that a patient died because you didn’t have stock of what could save the patient’s life.

Naidoo, who is a general practitioner, said adrenaline is used to treat severe hypersensitivity reactions to drugs and other allergens, which is known as anaphylactic shock.

“Unfortunately for cardiac emergency patients this is directly dependent on adrenaline injections, that’s the first thing we try before moving on to other alternatives which may take time, and we may not have enough time.”

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