The cataract operations were done in torch light as there was no electricity or power back-up there.
Unnao, Uttar Pradesh:
A video of mass eye operation, carried out by torchlight on 32 patients
at a hospital in Uttar Pradesh, has cost the top medical officer of the area his job. The patients had been brought to the government hospital in Unnao by a non-profit for free cataract removal surgery.
While such free camps are frequently held, there have been reports of botched operations and infections. In this case, while the outcome of the operations was not known, there have been multiple violation of rules. An inquiry has been ordered into the incident, which took place just 65 km from the state capital Lucknow.
The cellphone video of the operations, which was widely circulated, shows a doctor operating on a patient by the light of a cellphone torch. Another patient lies on a bed nearby.
Despite the bitter cold, the patients were made to lie on the floor after the operations - in pictures from the hospital, they are seen huddling together for warmth. And against all medical norms, the patients were sent away the next morning. After cataract removal surgery, patients are not allowed to get out of bed for 24 hours.
It is also not clear why the patients were operated upon at night -- such operations are usually allowed only in the day. The organization, however, was supposed to bring its own generator to cover for any power cut.
The patients, who are from the rural areas in Unnao and the neighbouring Kanpur district, had been brought to the hospital last evening by a Kanpur-based non-profit, the Jagdamba Sewa Samiti. Sources in the government say in such cases, the non-profits seek permission from the government to use its facilities and permission is generally granted.
The non-profit had arranged for a Kanpur-based doctor to carry out the surgeries. But while a government doctor was supposed to supervise the entire procedure, reports suggest he was not present.
"I asked the doctors why they operated in torchlight. They said that the light went (out) briefly for a bit and they had arranged for a generator soonest. In the interim, they would have been some time when patients would have faced a problem," said Rajendra Prasad, the suspended Chief Medical Officer of Unnao.
The government has promised action against those responsible including the non-profit, once the probe report is out.