Eye surgeon taken to cleaners for failing to sterilize the equipment

  • Posted on: September 21, 2017

Who is responsible to ensure the sterilization of equipment before surgery? While the answer would be obvious to most practitioners, this case was an eye opener for an eye surgeon who believed otherwise.

Dr. Saha had diagnosed a patient with mature cataract and diminishing vision in the right eye. A surgery was performed, and three weeks after the surgery the patient was diagnosed with diffuse conjunctival congestion with hazy cornea. Furthermore, the details of anterior chamber could not be seen and digital pressure was low. The doctor continued with antibiotics, however that did not bring relief to the patient and hence, he was advised to approach a higher center for better management where he was diagnosed with hyphema. Another surgery was performed at this higher center but vision in the patient’s right eye could not be restored.

With these facts at hand, the patient’s family approached State Disputes Consumer Redressal Commission, West Bengal. It was alleged that the doctor failed to ensure proper sterilization of the equipment before the surgery, which caused an infection in the patient’s eye which eventually resulted in complete loss of vision. This sheer negligence, it was further alleged, was evident from the fact that a second surgery had to be performed at the higher center.

Dr. Saha seemed to be washing his hands of the case. It was indifferently stated that the onus of sterilization of the operation area and the equipment lies with the nurses! Moreover, the higher center too did not identify any negligence in the surgery performed by him, Dr. Saha concluded.

Leave the fact finding to us, the Commission would’ve wanted to say to the doctor. A similar reply was delivered to him though. “Sterilization of the operation area and of surgical instruments is not the duty of the surgeon concerned clearly indicates not only the breach of duty by the doctor, but also lack of careful service he owed to the patient. Furthermore, repeated surgery in the operated eye by the higher center also indicates lack of proper and diligent care and resultant medical negligence on the part of Dr. Saha”.

Hope the good doctor understood the full scope of his responsibilities after doling out compensation of more than Rs. Three Lakh.

Source: Order pronounced by State Disputes Consumer Redressal Commission, West Bengal on 21st September, 2017