BENDIGO’S hospitals no longer use an anaesthetic drip blamed for about 20,000 deaths worldwide.
Hydroxyethyl starch (HES), also known as Voluven, is in the spotlight this week with leading intensive-care specialists condemning its continued use in Australia.
The US Food and Drug Administration issued a high-status warning for the drug in June and it has been withdrawn in the US, Europe, Britain, Canada and Italy.
Bendigo Goldfields Anaesthetic Specialists owner Dr Jackson Harding said Voluven had not been withdrawn from Australia but it was not used at Bendigo Health, St John of God’s Bendigo hospital or Bendigo Day Surgery.
“The drug has been under a cloud for some time,” Dr Harding said.
“When the recall was issued in the UK the anaesthetist in charge of safety at Bendigo Health made a recommendation that the drug be withdrawn from Bendigo Health.
“That was also passed on to St John of God Bendigo and they decided to follow suite.
“That happened in June or July so it’s not used in our hospitals.”
There have been various studies into the anaesthetic drip and The US Food and Drug Administration has concluded that HES solutions should not be used in critically ill adult patients, including those in intensive-care units. “It’s not without it’s controversy,” Dr Harding said.
“There were a number of doctors who believed because the studies were done in intensive care patients they’re not necessarily applicable ... that’s a source of debate.
“I haven’t used it in my practice for many years based on some of the early reports ... that’s been my approach for at least the last decade and many other anaesthetists share that view.”