The Indore Eye Hospital, which lost its licence earlier this month after 11 patients who underwent cataract surgery contracted infection and suffered impairment of vision, had wriggled out of a similar situation in 2011 by blaming 18 patients who had lost sight for not following doctors’ orders.
In 2011, Madhya Pradesh’s Directorate of Health Services had initially raised doubts whether the hospital had attempted to destroy evidence after the surgeries. The hospital termed the allegations false and blamed the infections on the patients, correspondence obtained by RTI activists and seen by The Hindu show.
Authorities ended up granting permission to the private eye hospital to reopen its operation theatres (OTs) less than three months after 18 of its cataract surgery patients lost vision due to infection.
On Monday, trading barbs with the BJP, the ruling Congress had hit back, saying the hospital had been let off ‘too easily’ in 2011 (when the BJP was in power in the State) and had been granted permission to resume cataract surgeries, thereby leading to the present situation.
A letter dated March 30, 2011, reveals that the then Indore Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) Sharad Pandit permitted the hospital to reopen its three OTs, closed since early January, after an inspection team found the results of a culture swab report ‘negative’. And in September, the hospital was permitted to resume organising camps as well.
Earlier, accusing the hospital of negligence in organising camps, the Joint Director of Health Services had written to the hospital claiming that during a tour there, “No objects were found in OTs. Eye OTs were empty. They were being white-washed. And you didn’t even convey this to us before shifting the objects from the OT.”
Stressing that as per protocol after the first case of infection becomes known, swab samples from walls and instruments should have been sent for testing by the CMHO, the official wrote: “Yet, by shifting the objects and whitewashing the OT, did you try to destroy the evidence?”
Replying to the letter, Sudhir Mahashabde, Medical Director of the hospital, asserted that the patients had contracted infection as they hadn’t followed doctors’ instructions post-surgery. “There was no infection in the eyes of patients at the point of being discharged. Each patient was given in writing precautions they had to take,” he wrote.
Claiming that there were no rules making it mandatory to shut an OT in case of an infection or for samples to be taken from there, Dr. Mahashabde had contended that neither was it mandatory to inform the CMHO in case of modifications to the operation theatre.
Mr. Pandit, now retired, told The Hindu, “The permission was granted based on three samples collected from the OTs over three months which turned negative. The Directorate was also informed about the results. Secondly, as a CMHO, I was the appropriate authority to make a decision based on the pathology report.” – The Hindu