Twenty-four patients who had undergone cataract surgery on July 8, presented with severe reactions a day after the surgery.

Cataract surgery goes wrong Bengaluru hospital alleges eye gel was contaminated
Health Health Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 07:57

Nothing about the appearance of the premises at Minto Eye Hospital gives away the terse situation inside. The surroundings are calm, with a few people scattered about. Inside the stone building of the hospital’s outpatient ward, however, is a different story. It was just here that hardly a week ago, 24 patients who had undergone cataract surgery went through immense turmoil after postoperative complications left them with diminished vision, unsure if they’d be restored with sight again. 

It all began with the patients being taken for a cataract surgery on July 9. They exhibited with varied adverse reactions the next day which led doctors to believe an infection may have occurred. 

Following the allegations that medical negligence led to the botched cataract surgeries on the patients, the administration has been working relentlessly to take care of the issue. Doctors at the hospital say that the surgeries went fine, but the allege that a contaminated medication given was responsible for the adverse reactions in the patients.

“A total of 24 patients were taken up for the cataract surgery on July 9. The next day, several of them were found to be having varying forms of irritation and reactions and we immediately began treating them with steroids and other measures to control the reactions. Upon investigating, we found that a gel used in the surgery was found to be contaminated,” stated Dr Sujatha Rathod, Director of Minto Eye Hospital.

A cataract occurs when there is degradation of the lens in the eyeball. This leads to diminished vision and other issues. In a cataract surgery, doctors operate to remove the degraded lens and replace it with an artificial one. The gel which is used in the surgery helps the new lens stay in place and aids in healing. 

“The 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,” added the doctor.

Amaresh Tumbagi, the Drug Controller of Karnataka told TNM that they had begun an investigation. "The hospital has said that the gel may have caused the loss in vision and other complications. We will investigate the gel and other aspects too."

Of the 24 patients who were operated, the condition of 11 improved and they were sent home and told to visit as per regulations for a follow up. Of the remaining 13 patients, 8 are showing considerable improvement and another 5 are being monitored. One out of the five patients will most likely not be able to regain her eyesight in the affected eye, due to her comorbid conditions which have resulted in a particularly aggressive infection. 

The administration of the hospital held a meeting on Tuesday with members of the Drugs Controller Department to further decide what action needs to be taken.

In the meantime, the operation theaters of the hospital have been shut down. They are being swabbed and tested for any source of the infective agent.

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