Botched cataract operation at free health camp leaves 26 villagers blind in Bihar
PATNA—As many as 26 villagers have lost their eyesight following a botched cataract operation at a free health camp organised by a private hospital in Bihar, sparking strong protests with the kin of the victims seeking for adequate compensation.
The situation is such that nine villagers who underwent surgery had their eyes gouged out to check the spread of infection, health officials said on Tuesday.
The camp was organised by a private eye hospital in Muzaffarpur town on November 22. A total of 65 villagers went to the hospital for a check-up after which they were asked to undergo cataract operation to get rid of their eye-related problems.
Subsequently, all of them underwent surgery at the hospital one by one. Soon after surgery, however, all the patients started complaining about pain in their eyes and severe infections but as their complaints were largely ignored, the patients were rushed to hospitals in the neighbourhood or in Patna.
It was there that the doctors found severe infection in their eyes and suggested removal of their eyes. Angry relatives later protested on the streets and met the local civil surgeon seeking action against the accused hospital.
“We learnt that all the persons who underwent cataract operations are suffering from severe infections and the doctors have suggested removal of the infected eye. We have constituted a three-member committee to look into the matter,” Muzaffarpur district civil surgeon Dr Vinay Kumar Sharma told the media on Tuesday. He said the action would be taken against the erring persons after getting the probe report but prima facie it appears to be a case of gross negligence.
The civil surgeon was virtually in for a rude shock when the relatives of nine patients met him to inform how their family members had their eyes removed due to infection as a result of botched surgery.
“Our patients were asked to undergo cataract surgery to clear vision in their eyes but when the surgery was completed, they encountered severe trouble and they had their eyes ultimately removed,” villagers such as Kaushalya Devi, Panna Devi Savitri Devi and Rammurti Singh told the civil surgeon.
One of the victims, Meena Devi said she felt immense pain in her eyes after surgery but when she contacted the doctors, they gave her a pain killer injection and discharged the next day.
“When I went to the hospital the next day (November 24), the doctor rebuked me for negligence. When I strongly protested, they suggested the removal of the infected eye. As there is no one in my family, I permitted them to proceed which they did,” Meena Devi told the media. Another patient, Jumrati Miyan, said he had been suffering from unbearable pain in his eye.
What does the hospital say?
Secretary of the eye hospital in question Dilip Jalan while expressing shock over the incident has announced to bear the treatment expenses of the patients. He said the hospital would initiate steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated. Muzaffarpur district magistrate Pranav Kumar said the administration was aware of the matter and the severe punitive action would be taken after the probe.
Similar incident of gross medical negligence was reported earlier when three unqualified volunteers performed tubectomies on 53 poor women without anaesthesia and proper medicines at another free health camp organized in Bihar’s Araria district in January 2012. What was further strange, all these 53 tubectomies were performed within two hours without anaesthesia, making the women cry out in agony.
All the victim women belonged to the poorest of the poor who developed complications after the camp but were lucky to survive. The free health camp was organised by the Jai Ambe Welfare Society, an NGO. The accused doctors were later arrested by the police.