A DAY after a cataract surgery in his right eye last week, Sanjeev Kumar went back to the hospital to have his bandage removed. He could not see anything. Dr Charanjeet Singh, who had done the surgery at the Sarvakalyan Eye and Charitable Hospital, gave him the bad news.
“When I went to the doctor the next day after my surgery on November 24, he said there was some infection,” Kumar told Chandigarh Newsline. “The doctor said I will be taken to PGI as he doesn’t have the medicine to treat the infection.”
Fifteen people from Ambala had the same infection, and suffered loss of vision in the operated eye after undergoing the surgery by the same doctor last week, all on the same day. The hospital is run by an NGO in Ambala.
Fifteen patients were admitted to Advanced Eye Centre with serious post-operative infection on November 26 and 27. Doctors at PGIMER, where the patients are being treated now, said 14 of them would regain partial or full vision in the affected eye over the next few weeks. The condition of one victim, Santosh Vati, is said to be serious.
According to the patients, the surgery was conducted by Dr Charanjeet Singh at Sarvkalyan Eye and Charitable Hospital in Ambala on November 24. Soon after the patients turned up at the hospital for removing the eye bandages, most of them reported that they couldn’t see. The patients were immediately rushed to the PGIMER for further treatment.
Soon after he was admitted to PGI, Kumar said doctors conducted an operation. “I don’t know what will happen to my eye. Doctors have said that my eyesight will come back,” he said. Kumar, who paid several thousand rupees for the surgery last week, says he had undergone a cataract operation in his left eye by the same doctor two years ago. There had been no problem after that.
Santosh Vati’s son Inderjeet told Chandigarh Newsline that her right eye was not “improving”. “After the surgery was conducted on November 24 (Tuesday), I paid Rs 8,000. Next day we visited the hospital again to get the dressing removed. It is then that we came to know that my mother couldn’t see anything,” said Inderjeet. “We were called again on Thursday.”
According to the patients, the doctors at Sarvakalyan hospital told them that they had to visit PGI for an injection. “They said that my mother has some infection and she needed to go to PGI for a minor check-up,” said Inderjeet. “When we reached here, there were so many patients here already.”
Many patients said that they borrowed money for the cataract surgeries. “I had to borrow money from a relative, but I am paying the money just to get my eye damaged,” said another victim.
The doctors at PGI said the patients were showing signs of improvement.
“This was a serious infection and we are happy that we have succeeded in controlling it,” said Dr Jagat Ram, head, PGI’s Advanced Eye Centre. “When they came to the hospital, they were completely blind. Now they are responding to treatment.”
Dr Ram, however, said that he couldn’t confirm the time when the victims would regain their complete eyesight. “We cannot say how much vision they would regain. They are showing improvement and it will take time,” he said. “Eleven patients required surgical procedure here.”
Dr Ram said the contamination in the fluid during the surgery could be the reason for the infection. “All the patients were treated with antibiotic injections in the eye besides topical and intravenous antibiotics,” he said, adding that 12 patients were discharged on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij, who visited the PGI to meet the patients, said that he ordered an inquiry into the incident. “I have ordered an inquiry into the incident. Whatever legal action will be required, we will take that,” he he told reporters here. “They have written that it is a charitable trust, but they charged the patients.”