Sunday / March 24.




From L.S. Herdenia


BHOPAL: Negligence and indifference by the concerned officials and failure to enforce relevant rules and procedure caused another tragedy in Madhya Pradesh. A few days ago about 80 persons lost their lives following a massive blast caused due to careless storage of explosive material. Explosion took place in Petlavad, which was part of Jhabua-Ratlam parliamentary constituency, was lost by the BJP. Petlavad explosion was one of the causes, which led to BJP’s defeat in the by-election.


The same factors which caused Petlavad tragedy are responsible for another tragedy in which more than fifty persons nearly lost their eyesight, after they underwent surgery at a cataract operation camp organised by the government from November 16 to 24 in Barwani. The affected persons were later referred to the MY hospital and Aurobindo hospital in Indore.


The matter came to light after the chief medical and health officer of Barwani submitted a report on the eye camp to the joint director of health, Indore. “An eye check-up camp for cataract was held in Barwani, in which around 90 people participated. Soon, the people who were operated upon started developing infection. When their condition deteriorated and were referred to another ophthalmologist, it was revealed that they were on the brink of losing their eyesight,” said Dr Sharad Pandit, joint director of health.


As days went by, the number of patients increased and it was revealed that the eye camp was to blame for it. However, by the time some of these patients approached doctors at other centres, the damage had already been done.


“Three patients were referred to us on November 25, and all of them had the same kind of infection. While one could be partially treated and was discharged, the condition of the other two is still not stable,” said Dr Preeti Rawat, ophthalmologist at the My Hospital. Ordering an inquiry into the entire incident, Dr Pandit said, “It is very unfortunate that this happened at a government camp. I have ordered an inquiry into the matter, and announced free medical treatment for all the patients.” A report will be filed in this matter by a special field team sent from Indore to Barwani.


The incident sent shockwaves not only in Madhya Pradesh but in entire country. The government promptly shifted patient to well equipped hospitals having expert surgeons. But it did not help. The health department on December 4, suspended eye surgeon Dr RS Palod and five others for negligence after botched cataract surgeries during an eye camp at the Barwani district hospital led to more than 25 people losing their eyesight.


A team — set up shortly after the incident on the orders of the principal secretary of health services Bhopal visited the Barwani district hospital and found lacunae at various levels in the facility.


“Prima facie, finding lacunae at various levels in protocol of the operation, the department has decided to suspend eye surgeon Dr RS Palod, operation assistant Pradeep Choukse, nursing staff Leela Verma, Vinita Choukse, Maya Chouhan and Shabana Mansuri”.


The field team headed by NHM Bhopal director Dr BN Chauhan also included Dr Pandit, Prof Vineeta Rawat from MGM Indore, MYH Indore ophthalmologist Dr Pradeep Goyal, Dileep Mishra (quality control) and drug inspectors Dharmendra Nirgudiya and Pramod Thakur. The findings of the team have been sent to the government, said Dr Pandit. The botched surgeries came to light after the chief medical and health officer of Barwani submitted a report on the eye camp to the joint director of health services, Indore, on December 3.


Soon, the people who were operated upon started developing infections. When their condition deteriorated and they were referred to another ophthalmologist, it was revealed that they were on the brink of losing their eyesight,” said Dr Pandit. He added that 86 people were operated on for cataract between November 17 and 24, and till Friday, 43 patients had developed infections. The remaining patients too have been called back for a thorough examination, he added. Dr Chouhan said that slackness and negligence were found rampant in the medical staff at the hospital, adding that instruments, lenses, saline solution and other medicines too have been sent for analysis.


Health minister Narottam Mishra has assured free and full treatment of all patients and proper action against the negligent staff. However, reacting sharply to the incident, Congress district president Sukhlal Parmar has demanded Mishra’s resignation in the matter. The suspension of six officials in connection with botched cataract surgeries in Barwani where at least 45 people lost their sight has triggered a blame game between doctors and health department officials.


Blaming health department officials for the botched eye surgery camp, doctors in Indore said that apart from suspending the surgeon who performed the operations, actions should be taken against officials who were responsible for purchasing drugs used in the surgeries. “It is not clear what led to the infection…but drugs could be the source,” said Dr Mohit Naredi, president of Indore junior doctors association. Madhav Hasnani, general secretary of Madhya Pradesh Medical Officers Association, said protocol should have been followed while conducting the eye camp.


After the botched eye camp in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur, where more than 16 people lost their eye sight the Madhya Pradesh health department had asked doctors to avoid holding eye camps, he said.


“If eye camps were to be held then proper precautions should have been taken, which sadly were not done.” He said if enough doctors were not available to “meet targets” for cataract surgeries, the camp should have been avoided.


Rajni Dabar, chief medical and health officer of Barwani, said had follow-up procedures been carried on time then the botch up could have been avoided. Show cause notices have been issued to 10 health staff who was responsible for maintaining the operation theatre where the surgeries were conducted. The sordid development revealed the mess of the health system in the State. (IPA Service)