Cataract surgery proves costly for patients' eyesight
By Zhou Weirong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-29 06:51
SHANGHAI: Police and medical departments are currently investigating a
serious medical scandal in Suzhou, East China's Anhui Province, in which nine
out of 10 cataract patients had to have their eyeballs removed following
cataract surgery in an allegedly non-sterile environment.
An initial investigation showed that this medical mishap occurred as a result
of illegal co-operation between Anhui Suzhou City Hospital and unlicensed
Shanghai Shunchunyang Science and Technology Trading Co.
In 2003, the Suzhou hospital signed a long-term contract with the Shanghai
company to co-operate on the business of providing cataract operations for
According to the contract, the hospital would provide medical equipment and
find patients while the Shanghai company would arrange for "medical experts," to
carry out surgery, a profitable co-operation for both parties.
It was revealed however, that the Shanghai company was not licensed to
provide medical services and although the "medical experts" were qualified
doctors, they were not registered to practise in the region.
Xu Qing, a chief physician from No 9 People's Hospital under the medical
college of Shanghai Jiaotong University, was recruited by the Shanghai company
on December 11 to carry out corneal transplant operations on 10 cataract
patients hoping to regain their eyesight.
Following surgery, the patients' eyes became seriously infected. Emergency
treatment failed after transferrals to Shanghai the next day, which resulted in
doctors having to remove the eyes of 9 patients and partially remove the cornea
of the remaining one.
A spokesman surnamed Tian of the Shanghai hospital told China Daily that Dr
Xu had been urged to stop practising while the investigation was being carried
He admitted that physician Xu had frequently been practising in neighbouring
provinces without reporting to the management.
"He is a capable and experienced oculist who has undertaken hundreds of such
operations for over 10 years without a single case of infection. The problem is
most likely to be insufficient sterilization by the Suzhou hospital," Tian said.
The Suzhou hospital was unavailable for comment.
The Shanghai Municipal Public Health Bureau has suspended Xu's licence to
The Anhui Provincial Department of Public Health has also taken punitive
action by confiscating the hospital's illegal income from the co-operation of
318,600 yuan (US$39,330) and it has imposed an additional fine of 30,000 yuan
(US$3,700). The Suzhou hospital has also been urged to terminate its contract
with Shanghai Shunchunyang Science and Technology Trading Co immediately.
Meanwhile, both the Shanghai and Anhui public health departments issued
circulars, encouraging medical institutions at all levels to strengthen their
medical team management to ensure the quality and safety of medical services.
(China Daily 12/29/2005 page2)