The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ants nibble at hospital patient’s eye

Calcutta, Nov. 14: Big black ants feasted on a woman’s eye all night on Sunday in a city hospital as attending nurses ignored her shrieks for help.

Gouri Rani Chakraborty’s left eye had a gaping hole on one side when her son Soumen lifted the bandage and cleared a swarm of ants from the swollen eye this morning.

The nurses on duty at Sambhunath Pandit Hospital feigned ignorance about the incident and the acting superintendent, A. Adhikary, said that it “was not uncommon for ants to bite a highly diabetic patient”.

Later in the day, the government announced that a five-member panel of senior hospital officials would probe the incident.

Instead of owning up to the negligence, the hospital authorities asked the family to move 55-year-old Gouri Rani out. “We were told that she immediately needs admission in an ICU, but we have decided to stay put for now,” said Amitabha Kar, her son-in-law.

Gouri Rani’s worries go back to early October when she first experienced pain in her eyes and the doctors found that she would require surgery on the cornea. Her husband Basudeb Chakraborty, a warder at Presidency Jail, took her to a private eye clinic in Barrackpore for the surgery, which was performed on October 26.

“But within days of the surgery, my mother faced problems as the eye swelled up quite a bit and doctors confirmed that it was a case of post-operative infection,” recalled Soumen.

She was admitted to Sambhunath Pandit Hospital (bed no. 55) a few days ago in the female ward under ophthalmologist Siddharta Ghosh.

A little after midnight, Gouri Rani felt pain in her left eye and called for help. “Despite her cries, nurses did not listen to her. The pain increased, but she could not do anything as she could hardly move,” said Kar.

At one point, the woman shrieked, bringing the nurses to her bedside. “Don’t worry, the infected eye at times hurts. Try to get some sleep,” they advised and trooped back to their room.

This morning when Soumen told the nurses about the horrifying incident, they said that it “can happen, but only the hospital superintendent would know what to do”.

Shocked at the sight, the family rushed to the superintendent’s office to learn he was absent. Acting superintendent Adhikary tried to pacify the family which lodged a negligence complaint with the hospital and Bhawanipore police station against the doctors and nurses.

Adhikary said: “We will probe the allegations. Gouri Rani will not lose her vision.”

“We knew what to expect in a state-run hospital, but what we saw was pathetic. There was hardly any senior doctor when we needed them the most,” said Kar.

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