When 24 patients were taken up for a simple cataract surgery on July 9, no one imagined that the relatively risk-free procedure would result in 2 people losing their vision. However, that is exactly what has transpired at the end of this unfortunate mishap.
Five of the original 24 patients who were not showing any improvement in their condition had been referred to Narayana Nethralaya by the doctors at Minto Eye Hospital where the surgery took place initially. Sources at Minto stated that the 5 individuals who didnâ€™t show much improvement after being treated for the infection they developed following the surgery, were referred to the private hospital for a vitrectomy. This is a procedure wherein the vitreous humour, a jelly-like substance which renders the eyeball its shape, is removed and replaced with a saline fluid. In this particular instance, this was the solution opted for by doctors, in view of the extent of the infection.
It was at this time that doctors at the private hospital were able to confirm that 2 of the 5 patients had developed an incredibly severe form of the infection, due to their comorbid conditions, the result of which made it unlikely that the 2 would be able to regain their sight. Administrators at Minto hospital have stated that the government would approach the manufacturers of the tainted gel to provide compensation to these individuals.
In the meantime, the hospital's operation theaters will be functioning in 2 days after they were shut down and swabbed to test for evidence of the infective agent.
How did such a huge mishap occur?
It all began when all 24 patients who underwent cataract surgery presented with various symptoms of an adverse reaction the day after the surgery. Further investigations led doctors to believe that a gel used in the procedure had been contaminated with Pseudomonas bacteria. Following allegations of medical negligence, the hospital administration began a thorough investigation into the issue and confirmed the presence of the bacteria in samples of the gel. However, they noted that the gel came in sterile packaging which is not opened until the time of surgery, and claimed that the fault lay with the manufacturers. Supporting this allegation, they stated that a batch of the gel which was used on patients one day earlier, did not show any evidence of contamination and that the patients too had recovered as expected.
There is a natural lens in the eye, which can degrade over time due to a number of underlying reasons. When this occurs, it is termed as a cataract and it can cause a decline in an individualâ€™s vision, in addition to other issues. A cataract surgery is done to remove the degraded lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lense (IOC). The gel which was used in the surgery serves the purpose of keeping the IOC in place and aids in healing.
â€śThe gel which was used was bought from the manufacturers themselves directly and was sterilised, it was not opened until the time of surgery. The few samples of the gel that was sent was found to be contaminated with Pseudomonas bacteria,â€ť Dr Sujatha Rathod, Director of Minto Eye Hospital, had earlier stated to TNM.
A case has been filed against the hospital by a relative of one of the affected patients at VV Puram police station in Bengaluru. An FIR has been registered against the hospital under section 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).