The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued a notice to Maharashtra government over alleged botched-up surgeries at a cataract check-up camp in Washim district that led to four persons losing their vision and 19 being critically affected.

The Commission, taking suo motu cognisance of the matter, observed that the contents of media reports in this regard, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victims. Accordingly, it issued a notice to principal secretary of state health department, seeking a report within two weeks.

"A preliminary probe found negligence as the standard operating procedure for sterilisation of instruments was reportedly not followed. The patients, all in the age group of 55 to 90 years, were found to be suffering from pseudomonas (bacteria) infection," the Commission stated in its notice.

"Reportedly, flouting the guidelines, the Washim Hospital authorities did not inform the local authorities when the patients suffered complications and sent them to the Government Medical College in Akola, which did not have a retinal surgeon," it further stated.

Later, 23 patients were shifted to J J Hospital in Mumbai, two to Jalna Civil Hospital and one to Government Medical College in Nagpur while six remained under observation at Akola GMC. Two doctors, who had performed the surgeries, were placed under suspension.

The victims had gone for cataract surgery in Washim during a camp held there between October 6 and 29. But, from October 13, few patients started coming back to hospital with complaints of watery, itchy and red eyes, and blurred vision. When these patients started turning up at Washim hospital, the doctors, without analysing the cause, referred them to the medical college at Akola, where also they did not get proper attention for over ten days, which shows serious and criminal negligence, a health official had earlier said.

Noted eye-surgeon at J J Hospital, Dr T P Lahane had also said that the situation would not have been so grim, had the patients been brought to J J Hospital in the earlier stages of complications.