Patients die as Cardiac surgery unit stays closed

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Some cardiac patients who had been scheduled to undergo emergency operations have died due to the closure of Kandy hospital Cardiac Thoracic Surgery Unit.

The unit has remained closed for the past two months as essential drugs and surgical consumables required for operations and the patients ran out.

Although hospital authorities had placed orders for drugs and surgical consumables, due to red tape no action had been taken to replenish the stocks. A few well-off patients have been able to purchase drugs from private pharmacies, but the lives of a majority of unfortunate patients are at stake, the GMOA said yesterday.

The GMOA spokesman told The Island that healthcare services in the Kandy hospital Cardiac Thoracic Surgery unit had gone from bad to worse because the functioning of the unit had come to a standstill. Due to the severe shortage of surgical consumables and drugs for cardiac patients the Unit had to be closed. A few deaths occurred as emergency operations scheduled for badly sick patients had to be postponed, he said.

He pointed out that though there was a crisis situation at the Kandy hospital’s Cardiac Thoracic Unit, nobody had taken the responsibility to restore the situation.

Kandy hospital GMOA Brach Secretary Dr. Saman Karunathilaka said that the hospital authorities had placed orders for drugs and surgical consumables in advance in order to obtain them on time, but due to excessive bureaucracy and red tape, for the last two months, no tangible steps to replenish drugs and consumables had been taken by the Ministry. It could be a conspiracy to get commission through emergency purchases from private pharmacies, he said.

However, a Health Ministry official said that the temporary closure of the unit was due to shortage of drugs and consumables required by cardiac patients. The Ministry had investigated the cause of the delay in getting drugs and it was found that most Multi-national Drug Companies were unable to export the stocks on time. The closed thoracic unit would be opened next week, he said.

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