A risk posed by steroid therapy that crippled hundreds of patients in the 2003 SARS outbreak in China seems to have emerged in the current treatment regime for the H1N1 pandemic flu.
Overuse of the steroid gluco-corticoid to treat critically ill H1N1 patients has, in many cases, worsened their condition, even leading to deaths after weakening their immune systems. That’s the warning that came from Li Ning, president of Beijing Youan Hospital, one of the two government-designated hospitals to treat severe H1N1 cases.
So far, Li said, 15 of the 49 serious H1N1 patients have died at the hospital, including two pregnant women.
All the dead had received steroids before being admitted to Youan hospital, who does not use that line of treatment.
Most of the victims had been given steroid therapy in high doses ranging from 300 mg to 1,200 mg.
The mortality among those who had earlier received high doses of steroid reached 70 percent at the Beijing hospital, twice that among those who did not use steroids, Li noted.
As of Jan 2, China had recorded more than 120,000 H1N1 flu cases including 659 deaths.
Many questions concerning steroid therapy remain, but other physicians say it can be successful if used in the right way on the right patients.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Renee Haines is an editor and broadcaster at China Daily. Renee has more than 15 years of experience as a newspaper editor, radio station anchor and news director, news-wire service reporter and bureau chief, magazine writer, book editor and website consultant. She came to China from the United States.