Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Danam Nagender on Monday that his ministry has taken a serious note of the situation after a botched surgery at a 'free eye camp' organised by a private corporate hospital in Nellore early last week resulted in loss of vision in 10 people and hospitalisation of 20 others with eye infection.
The Health Minister said, "Losing eyesight is like losing life. If it is a case of negligence we'll take action."
The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered a probe after 10 people who underwent cataract surgery following a free eye check-up camp a few days ago lost their eyesight, officials said on Monday.
The incident took place in Nellore district, bordering Tamil Nadu.
After the surgery, eyeballs of four of the affected people had to be removed to save their lives, their relatives.
They were among the 24 people operated upon Oct 20 by a team of doctors at Bollineni Eye Hospital and Research Centre in Nellore town. Global Eye Foundation had conducted a camp at a couple of villages in Indukurpet mandal in the district Oct 18.
While the families of the victims alleged that they turned blind due to negligence by the doctors, the hospital authorities said the infection was a result of the patients not taking precautions.
Officials said 15 of the people who were operated upon at the hospital came back the next day with complaints of severe pain and a burning sensation.
They were shifted to Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai, where the doctors said that the chances of getting their eyesight back were bleak.
The attendants of the patients claimed that the eyeballs of the four patients were removed as doctors at Chennai hospital said this was necessary to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts. Blaming the doctors at Bollineni for the tragedy, they demanded that the government take serious action against them.
"We have launched the probe. We have directed the hospital authorities to stop all operations till the probe is completed," Nellore district collector K Ramgopal told reporters.
The district authorities have also sent a team of doctors to Chennai to collect swabs from the patients.
The Bollineni hospital authorities have denied that negligence by the doctors led to the incident. "There is not a single incident where negligence by doctors has resulted in the infection. There could be several reasons for the infection and we will know the facts after the testing of the swabs which have already been sent to government labs," N Sai Murali, chief ophthalmologist at the hospital, said.
A team of four doctors had performed the surgery. Terming the incident as unfortunate, Murali pointed out that 45,000 cataract surgeries were performed at the hospital during the last six years and not a single incident of infection was reported.