Milan Izák (left) says he acted in his patients' best interests. Michal Bucek (right), head of F.D. Roosevelt Hospital says he will consult the health minister before taking action.
Based on the findings of a ministerial inspection at Banská Bystrica F.D. Roosevelt hospital's eye clinic, Minister Roman Kováč says clinic boss, Milan Izák, should go.
However, the ministerial inspection was requested by Izák himself following an earlier investigation by Všeobecná Health Insurance (VšZP) in 2001. Izák had accused VšZP of being biased and incompetent.
Although it did not confirm that the health of patients was damaged, the ministerial inspection said the eye clinic had implanted unregistered, expired and badly stored Russian Fiodorov eye lenses to its patients with leucoma.
The inspection also uncovered several shortcomings in the clinic's accounting practices.
Izák admitted that the clinic had "sometimes been operating on the verge of the law." But he insisted that everything was done in the best medical interests of his patients.
"There's no reason why I should retreat from my post," Izák said.
However, Minister Kováč says Professor Izák should leave his post and that he should do so voluntarily. If he does not, Kováč proposes that Michal Bucek, head of the Roosevelt hospital, should forcibly dismiss Izák.
The minister also said that he was considering fining Izák Sk1 million ($21,000).
But Bucek has refused to speculate on Izák's future with the clinic. "Those who are responsible will have to carry the consequences. But today I can't tell you what the consequences will be," he said.
He added that he would personally consult the minister before taking any action.
Izák maintains that the use of unregistered and expired lenses is a common practice in eye clinics across Slovakia because of a lack of funds to buy new ones.
"Similar problems can be found in other clinics too. Mainly this concerns the implantation of unregistered lenses and re-sterilisation of lenses," he said.
But the ministerial expert for ophthalmology, Peter Strmeň, denied Izák's claim. "It is not known that in the past three years any of the eye clinics in Bratislava, Martin or Košice would carry out any clinical study using non-registered special health material," he said.
Izák maintained, however, that the use of expired and re-sterilised eye lenses was done in the best interests of his patients and that a study carried out by American experts on thrice re-sterilised lenses had proved the practice was safe.
He also claimed that the affair was directed towards discrediting the eye clinic and himself.
Meanwhile, Bucek has temporarily banned the use of the Russian lenses.
František Valášek from VšZP insists that Izák has been breaking the law and should be recalled.
"Nobody can do what they please. There is no other such workplace in the world apart from the Banská Bystrica clinic that would implant expired Russian lenses," Valášek said.
21. Jan 2002 at 0:00 | Martina Pisárová