Hyderabad: In what is likely to open a Pandora's Box, the three-member external committee probing the botched surgery at Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital (SDEH), which resulted in vision loss in nine patients, has absolved the doctors of any wrongdoing in a report submitted to the government on Monday.
The committee -Dr J Panduraja, superintendent, Regional Eye Hospital, Warangal, Dr K Venkateswarlu, joint director, National Programme for Control of Blindness, and Dr Ravi Shekhar, faculty at Nizamabad Medical College --based its conclusion on three test sample reports obtained from the hospital.
In the tests, which included growing bacteria from an eyelid, vitreous culture (0.1 ml liquid extracted from jellylike substance that fills the middle of the eyes) and saline solution from the Ringer's Lactate (RL) bottle, they found superbug Klebsiella bacteria as the common link.
"There was nothing to establish negligence of the doctors as the test reports pointed towards Klebsiella-induced infection due to use of substandard RL solution," said one of the three members.
In this scenario, they have given a clean chit to all the four SDEH doctors -Dr G Sudhakar Reddy , head, ophthalmology , Dr A J Krishna Kishore, Dr K N Sreekavitha and Dr Srinivas -all of who were part of the team in Operation Theatre 2 on June 30.
Not surprisingly , the com mittee's report has drawn flak from relatives of patients. "If doctors are not guilty, then the hospital must take responsibility for medical negligence.We will take up a legal fight for hefty compensation," said M Jitender Reddy , son-in-law of 70-year-old S Anji Reddy.
Meanwhile, M Amruth Rao, joint director, Telangana Drugs Control Administration (TDCA), told TOI that the findings of the external committee, which pointed fingers at Nagpur-based Haseeb Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, has no bearing on their ongoing probe. "Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, only the laboratory tests conducted by the Drug Control Authority is considered valid in courts of law. Their finding has no relevance," he said, adding that their reports are expected to come in two weeks.
It is rumoured that in all likelihood, the Nagpur-based pharma firm may also get a clean chit as it is highly improbable that out of the thousands of RL bottles it supplied to government hospitals in the city for several years, only four bottles used by SDEH doctors on that fateful day were contaminated.
When contacted, Dr M Ramani, director of medical education, refused to react on the report saying its contents were confidential. "We received the report and have forwarded the findings to the health secretary ," she said.