Nearly two months after the incident, where the disinfectant was sprayed into his left eye and damaged the corneal epithelium, James Lapthorn’s vision has now improved after being “totally affected” in one eye, his mother said, Liz said. Partridge.
The family doctor said his eye has healed to about 90 percent, but until he is older and can perform more sophisticated eye tests, it is unknown how severely his long-term vision has been affected.
“It was awful,” he said.
“We didn’t sleep for three nights because I was constantly crying in pain and that was with full doses of pain killers. I couldn’t open my eyes.”
In the immediate aftermath of the incident at La Saigon restaurant in Wellington on October 30, Partridge took James out of office hours, where they administered eye drops and sent him home.
The next morning, he took him to the hospital.
“James couldn’t open his eye and it was hugely swollen and had gunk from the infection,” she said.
Since then, she has needed weeks of visits to the hospital and specialists, steroids, antibiotics, and eye drops four times a day.
Partridge posted a warning online for other parents, saying she would be “devastated” if the harrowing incident happened to other children.
He was asked to share the incident publicly after visiting a local swimming pool, where he saw that there was also a dispenser.
A Wellington City Council spokeswoman said it has since removed all dispensers from its premises, but has not received any complaints about any other incidents.
La Saigon manager Ayushma Nakarmi said that when the incident occurred, staff apologized to the family and provided water to rinse his eye.
She said the dispenser, which is popular with customers, is still installed in the restaurant and will remain there unless the council or Worksafe directs them to remove it.
“People are very happy to have a pedal, this accident can happen to anyone, it should be a precaution that a parent should take, not us. We cannot control children,” he said.
Ms Nakarmi said the restaurant must offer hand sanitizer due to COVID-19 and that no other complaints have been received about the dispenser.
“We have hundreds of people coming [through] every day in hospitality we cannot satisfy everyone, “he said.
Partridge said that every time she sees the dispensers she shares James’ story and urges the store owners not to be complacent and encourages them to have a parent warning.
“Ideally, they would just take it off and use hand pump bottles. It doesn’t seem right that something that can be so harmful, and really attractive to curious children, should be placed within their direct reach,” he said.
Worksafe said it received a notification about the incident and is asking questions.
“We are likely to engage with the company through a letter to ensure that health and safety obligations are understood and met,” said a Worksafe spokeswoman.
A spokesperson for Regional Public Health said it has not received any reports of chemical injuries related to hand sanitizer.
From January 1 to May 17 of this year, the National Poisons Center received an increase in calls related to the exposure of hand sanitizer products among children aged 0 to 5, compared to the same period last year.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education recommended to early childhood centers that hand sanitizer, like other sanitizers, should be kept out of the reach of children and should only be used with supervision.