March 1, 2009

Hospital patients getting drunk on gels

Some patients in British hospitals have been using alcohol hand gels to get intoxicated, the National Health Service says.

The health agency has issued an official patient safety alert to hospitals and clinics throughout Britain, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday. The gels have been used in patient care for more than four years.

Reported thefts of the alcohol hand gels by patients have already resulted in two hospitals in Staffordshire county clearing their wards of gel dispensers.

The dispensers are typically placed about hospital wards for employees to use in order to prevent the potential spread of infections.

Paramedics who have treated patients accused of stealing the dispensers claim desperate patients with addictions will consume the alcoholic solution despite the presence of a foul-tasting chemical.

The Telegraph said an unspecified number of deaths and serious incidents have been attributed to the consumption of hand gel.