It’s been more than a month since at least 33 people lost their eyesight at a free surgery camp at Ghuman village near here, but action has gone little beyond the registration of a case. Meanwhile, the Punjab health minister, Surjit Kumar Jyani, wonders “why create a big deal out of it”.
Cataract surgeries were performed on 153 people held as part of a free check-up camp organised by a non-government organisation (NGO) headquartered in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, November 1-4, 153 cataract surgeries were performed. On December 3, it came to light that some patients had lost vision. After media reports, a case of medical negligence was registered, and Jalandhar-based Dr Vivek Arora who conducted the surgeries, NGO SKL Netra Chikitsalya, camp coordinator Manjit Joshi and the private hospital where the camp was held were put in the dock.
Since then, the police say they are awaiting a report from the health department; but the health officials claim they already sent it to the police on December 9. As such, the report has failed to reach Batala from Gurdaspur in more than 25 days.
DEPT IN DOCK TOO
The surgeries were held at Guru Nanak Multi-Specialty Hospital, and the health department has been claiming that it had not given permission for surgeries. During investigation, it has been revealed that eye specialist of the civil hospital, Batala, Dr Gurdial Singh, and Dr Kailash Sharma from community health centre, Ghuman, were at the camp and even examined patients on October 30, a day before the surgeries.
When contacted, Dr Gurdial acknowledged that on October 30, “after getting orders from in-charge, district eye mobile unit, Dr Vimmi
Mahajan”, he examined patients “but no operation was conducted on October 30; just medicines and spectacles were distributed”.
Owner of the hospital, Sukhdev Singh, who said they had only given their operation theatre for the surgeries, was also present. Flex boards to inform people about the eye camp were installed in the village on behalf of the hospital authorities.
WHERE’S THE REPORT
When contacted, civil surgeon Dr Rajnesh Sood told HT that they had submitted a report with the Batala police, but he refused to divulge the contents. He refused to comment on the presence of civil hospital doctors at the camp.
But senior superintendent of police Inderbir Singh claimed he had not received any report from the health department so far. “Though about
one week ago I had asked for some inputs from health authorities, no information has been received,” he said.
Health minister Jyani, when asked about the matter during his visit to Mohali, said, “I believe mistakes happen only when some work is done. The camp was put up with the intention to cure, and no one wanted the incident to happen. It was just a one-odd incident. We have had so many camps in the past but nothing went wrong anywhere”.
He refused to comment on whether or not directions have been issued to health centres after the incident. He also refrained from commenting on the status of the Ghuman case particularly.
It is learnt, meanwhile, that the hospital administration has close ties with a ruling party leader, on whose orders the doctors from the civil hospital examined patients at the camp; and now political pressure has slowed down the probe.
(Inputs from Jyotsna Jalali in Mohali)