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Hospital Patient Gets Drunk On Hand Sanitizer

SYDNEY, Australia ~ (AAP) ~ A man who drank alcohol-based hand sanitizer while being treated in a local hospital has created a demand for anti-bacterial gels to be better secured.

Dr. Michael Oldmeadow, an internist at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, said this wasn't the first time this type of incident has happened, but it was the most serious case he's ever seen and also added that the man was lucky to be alive. "It surprised us that he drank this stuff," Oldmeadow said, according to the Australian Associated Press. "It's horrendous. You'd think it would taste pretty bad." The gel has an ethanol content of 66 percent and is used by the medical staff to prevent the spread of infection.

The unidentified 45-year-old man had been admitted to The Alfred three days earlier for alcoholic gastritis when hospital staff noticed he had suddenly become drowsy for no apparent reason. Nurses were later stunned when, while changing the man's bed, they discovered a near-empty bottle of hand sanitizer. That's when the man admitted to drinking six of the 12.7-ounce bottles of the gel and submitted to undergo a breathalyzer test. The blood-alcohol concentration numbers on that test came out to be 0.271 percent, more than five times the 0.05 percent legal limit for driving in Australia.

Doctors said in a letter, published June 19th in the Medical Journal of Australia, that it was unclear exactly when the incident occurred, but Oldmeadow and three of his colleagues claimed that three other patients also consumed hand sanitizer in the past six months. They said the incident highlights the need for better sanitizer security by installing wall-mounted dispensers. In Australian hospitals the bottles are commonly held in wire baskets, making them easy to remove and carry around.

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