Condition of Bihar hospitals is the worst: Supreme Court

SC tells the state government to ensure that ‘not a single hospital in the entire state’ distributed medicines without the help of registered pharmacists

Supreme Court Patanjali

New Delhi: The pathetic conditions of medical care in Bihar got exposed again. During the hearing of a case, the Supreme Court pulled up the Bihar government for allowing unqualified persons to discharge their duties as pharmacists in many government run hospitals.

A bench of the apex court, comprising Justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh, while hearing a petition, observed that it was fraught with peril by vesting untrained personnel with the responsibility of medicine distribution-related work.

Justice Shah categorically told the state government to ensure that ‘not a single hospital in the entire state’ distributed medicines without the help of registered pharmacists. “If an untrained person administers the wrong medicine or the wrong doses of a medicine, and this results in something serious happening, who will be responsible?” the judge asked with dejection at the state health department’s approach.

He further said that the court would not permit the state government to play with the lives of its citizens.

The bench did not look impressed by the counsel of the Bihar government’s plea that it would would take appropriate action as per the law against the erring personnel. Justice Shah noted, “Where there is poverty and lack of education, you cannot afford to wait till a complaint is filed. Even more so, in a state like Bihar. You don’t understand the seriousness of this matter. This is not just a question of fake pharmacists, but also fake doctors. You will find a number of fake doctors and fake compounders in the state,” the judge observed.

He further said, “The poor, uneducated people have to go to them (fake doctors and compounders) for treatment. The condition of hospitals in Bihar is the worst. And you are saying you will wait till complaints are lodged. The inaction of the state government till the receipt of a complaint is ‘not permissible’,” the judge said, explaining that it was their duty to investigate the worrying trend.

The state government counsel sought to shift the blame on the Bihar State Pharmacy Council, claiming that it has been rendered defunct after it went in the poll mode since years. “The council is responsible for maintaining the registers and enrolling pharmacists. It is the responsible body which is supposed to take action,” the counsel submitted.

Justice Shah countered the argument wondering, “Does that mean the state government is absolved of responsibility? They will permit anyone to distribute medicines in the government or semi-government hospitals?”

The counsel for the petitioner also added that under Section 45 of the Pharmacy Act, 1948, the state government was required to constitute an enquiry on finding irregularities or instances of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act.

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