After last year’s botched-up surgeries, no eye ops in Barwani hospital

Not a single eye operation has been done in the MP’s Barwani district hospital in the past one year since 67 persons lost their eyesight in botched cataract surgeries conducted in the institute.

indore Updated: Nov 17, 2016 09:04 IST
Nida Khan and Animesh Jain, Indore/Barwani
botched cataract surgeries,Barwani district hospital,healthcare
Not a single eye operation has been done in the state’s Barwani district hospital in the past one year (Arun Mondhe/HT)

Not a single eye operation has been done in the MP’s Barwani district hospital in the past one year since 67 persons lost their eyesight in botched cataract surgeries conducted in the institute.

Patients are now forced to either go to private hospitals or rush to Indore to remove a cataract.

The hospital’s old operation theatre (OT) where the botched surgeries were conducted is now dysfunctional. The make-shift OT for the eye operation is housed at the trauma centre, leading to fear of infections.

The lone ophthalmologist posted at the hospital being a new recruit is also hesitant to do any operation, given the hospital’s “dubious legacy,” said a health official. No eye surgeon has been posted in the entire district, adding to the woes of the patients.

“Eye specialist Dr RS Palod, appointed by the previous government, was suspended after the botched eye surgery camp and subsequently he retired. After that we recruited a new doctor, but she is not that confident to carry out operations,” said Dr Sharad Pandit, joint director health. He further added, “We had suggested to the Barwani CMHO to send a list of patients to us so that we can set up camps to carry out the operations by sending an expert team from Indore. Unfortunately it could not be done so far.”

On November 2 this year, additional director (health) ordered a fresh probe into the incident and asked joint director (health), Indore, Dr Sharad Pandit, to submit a report within 30 days.

After the last year’s botched surgeries civil surgeon AS Vishnar, eye specialist Dr RS Palod and five others, including four staff nurses, were suspended. Optometric assistants were served show cause notices.

Two committees formed to probe the incident then observed that the infection was spread owing to an unclean operation theatre, raising question about its maintenance.

“At present, it is difficult to perform operations in the old OT as the place is in a bad shape. It is housed at a donated building. Hopefully the new OT will be operational soon. We just wanted to ensure that everything is in proper place as we cannot afford another tragedy on the same scale,” said Barwani collector Tejaswi S Naik.


Dr RS Palod, ophthalmologist, who was suspended after a botched up cataract surgery in November 2015, spoke to HT and touched upon several issues that he had to face while serving in the district hospital Barwani. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about the entire incident and how did everything unfold back then.

I performed all the 86 cataract operations, out of which 67 people lost one eye. In the 24 years of my career, I have performed around 35,000 cataract operations in the same operation theatre (OT) of Barwani. I was the only person who could do these operations in Barwani since 2003. Two more doctors were deputed (one each at Sendhwa and Barwani), but they didn’t perform operations. After the news came, all of us were suspended by the health department.

Several committees were set up after that botched up surgery. The final committee said the operation theatre was in a bad condition.

At Barwani district hospital, we had a 60-year-old OT, which was in a dilapidated condition. When Barwani district was carved out of Khargone district, the entire staff and establishment shifted to Khargone. No attention was given to Barwani. Several letters were written to the higher authorities for the renovation of the OT but nothing happened. We didn’t have the important phaco machine (phacoemulsifer) also in district hospital’s OT.

As a large number of surgeries were performed at the eye camp, was there any pressure of meeting a target?

The target for each year’s operation depends on the number of cataract patients and in Barwani it was around 6,500. Out of which, we have done 3,400 till November 2015. The target includes the number of operations performed in private hospitals also. At government hospitals, we receive Rs 450 for each operation beside the lens, medicines and other facilities but it is all free for a patient. At the private hospital, a cataract surgery costs Rs7, 500 to Rs 40,000. NGOs manage expenditure of screening camps. So there was never any pressure to perform operations, but then it is difficult for one person to attend to every surgery.

Tale in figures

2,397 cataract operations were performed by eye specialists in Barwani district hospital in 2014.

2328 cataract operations were conducted in 2015, till November 23, when 67 people lost one eye each.

After the botched eye surgery, not a single operation has been performed at district hospital from November 23, 2015- November 17, 2016.

Barwani has 1 district hospital, 1 civil hospital in Sendhwa, 8 community health centres, 29 rural primary health centres, 2 urban primary health centers.

First Published: Nov 17, 2016 09:04 IST