Report pulls up eye op clinic

An investigation into conditions at a clinic in Serres, northern Greece, where 13 patients suffered serious visual impairment after undergoing cataract surgery in June, has revealed problems with sterilizing facilities at the clinic but has not traced the bug that caused the infections, it emerged yesterday. Three of the 13 patients have gone blind, while the other 10 have suffered partial loss of vision after undergoing surgery at the Iaso clinic in Serres. According to a report compiled by medics from Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University and the microbiology unit of the city’s Theagenio Cancer Hospital, one of the clinic’s autoclaves – devices which sterilize equipment and supplies using steam – had been malfunctioning. The medical team said that it had conducted a comprehensive inspection of the clinic’s premises but had not traced the bacterium that caused the inflammation of the patients’ internal eye tissue, known in medical terms as endophthalmitis. The medics’ report has been forwarded to regional health authority officials. The 13 patients originally underwent cataract surgery on June 22 and 23 at the Iaso clinic in Serres but they all complained of complications soon afterward. In July, they were diagnosed as having contracted endophthalmitis and transferred to Thessaloniki’s AHEPA, a state hospital, where they were operated on for a second time. At the time doctors at the AHEPA had predicted that all the patients would suffer at least a partial loss of vision. The Health Ministry subsequently ordered the clinic to stop all surgery pending the completion of an investigation. It remained unclear yesterday whether any managers or staff at the Iaso clinic would face charges for neglect.

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