Prisoners get drunk on hand sanitiser

1st of November 2011

Prisoners at a New Zealand facility were very grateful when hand sanitisers were given out to them by wardens to help prevent the spread of disease.

Particularly happy were three enterprising inmates who turned it into a home brew and became so intoxicated that one of them assaulted a prison officer.

Hand sanitiser has routinely been given out to Inmates at Rolleston Prison near Christchurch following February's deadly earthquake in a bid to curb the threat of illness.

But in September, three inmates added a powdered fruit drink to the alcohol and then drank the brew. One of them - 24-year-old Tuarea Pahi - became so drunk that he assaulted a prison officer, resulting in an extra 70 days added to his jail term.

Hand sanitisers have become much more widely available in institutions since the 2009 swine flu scare, but they are open to abuse.

In June this year there were calls for antibacterial gels in hospitals to be better secured after a patient in Australia drank several bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

The 45-year-old was being treated for alcoholism at a Melbourne hospital when he downed six 375-millilitre bottles of the fluid, giving him a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.271 per cent. This is more than five times higher than the 0.05 per cent legal limit imposed across most of Western Europe.

This is not the first such incident to have occurred according to internist at the Alfred hospital in Melbourne city Dr Michael Oldmeadow. "However, this was the most serious case we have seen and the man is lucky to have survived," he said.


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