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Times of India
19 October 2011
By, Supriya Sharma
Raipur , India

After spending 7,000 rupees at a private clinic last year, 60–year–old Narsingh Sahu, a farmer, was thrilled when government doctors set up a camp outside his village to offer free cataract surgery. Except that the surgery came at a higher price: it clouded his left eye with a painful blinding infection and might leave him with permanent loss of sight.

45 Elderly May Lose Sight After Free Govt Surgery
Forty–five elderly patients like Sahu are dealing with the aftermath of a series of botched up operations at a government camp on September 29. The week–long camp for treating cataract free was held in Balod, a small town in Chhattisgarh’s Durg district. More than 300 patients from the nearby villages flocked to the camp, which was ill–equipped to handle the rush, with only four visiting doctors from the district headquarters.

“Each doctor was operating three patients at a time. After the surgery was over, we were given no instructions on post operative care,” said Lalmati Gaur, a 65–year–old woman, now admitted to Raipur hospital. According to patients who were operated, within 24 hours they felt acute pain and the operated eye swelled up and turned watery.

“I was told ‘dawaa mein hawaa lag gaya’ (the medicine got exposed to air)”, says Sahu, who was referred to Dr Mishra, the same doctor who had operated his eye. “He gave me false assurances and kept me in the hospital for 3–4 days,” says Sahu. An inquiry by the district collector has revealed the doctors did not report complaints them to higher authorities. All four doctors have been suspended.

“While newspapers reported two deaths due to the infection, those could not be confirmed,” said Kamalpreet Singh, the health services director. “Four to five patients appear to have suffered irreparable loss of sight,” he added. “The newspapers say the government wants to give us 20,000 rupees. Of what use is the money? I would sell my house and pay the doctors, if they can restore my sight,” said 65–year–old Bhaiyalal, a worker.

Patients had flocked to the weeklong government camp, which was ill–equipped to handle the rush. Doctors were said to be operating three patients at a time }

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