In a near-repeat of Chhattisgarh sterilization deaths, a drunk doctor performed five sterilization operations and fell asleep, leaving the sixth patient on the operation table in remote Seraj area of Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh.
All five patients who underwent sterilizations are reported to be safe and were discharged on Wednesday. The sixth patient was later rescued by her family members.
Further operations were suspended for the day as family members of patients came to know about the doctor having performed the operations in a drunken state and had left the sixth patient unattended on the operation table at Primary Health Centre (PHC), venue of the sterilization camp at Thunag, 80 km from district headquarters.
In all, there were 67 women registered for the family planning operation in the camp. Out of them, 30 taken-up in the first batch were administered Atropine Injections .
A batch of six patients were taken into the operation room. Due to the doctor’s drunken state he could perform sterilization on only five before he locked himself in a room and fell asleep, leaving the sixth patient unattended. The patient was already administered anaesthesia.
As the next patient was not called in after a long time, the families of the women grew suspicious and questioned the medical staff. It was only after sometime, the staff informed about the “doctor being unwell and taking rest”.
The issue rocked the Himachal Pradesh Assembly when local BJP MLA Jairam Thakur tabled an adjournment motion in the House. The government ordered suspension of Dr Kapil Malhotra and ordered an inquiry into the episode.
“This is a case of gross negligence of the doctor, whose medical examination later confirmed he being in drunken state. It’s sheer luck that all five women who underwent sterilization are safe and no death or medical complication has been reported,” Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur informed the assembly.
He said a new team of doctors have reached Thunag and, till 1 pm, 25 more sterilizations had been done successfully. All the patients registered for the family planning operation will be looked after by the government.
The health minister, however, claimed that the doctor in question has a good reputation as a government gynecologist and he had already done hundreds of family planning surgeries. “Yet, the government will not spare anyone indulging in such kind of dereliction of duty in the health services, as it’s question of human lives. We have adopted a policy of zero-tolerance in such cases,” said Kaul Singh.
The government, Thakur said, has ordered suspension of the doctor and asked District Programme Officer Dr Praveen Kumar to hold an inquiry.
Earlier, BJP MLA Jairam Thakur raised questions on the state government’s failure alleging that the doctor in question is known for his drinking habit, and during an earlier sterilization camp he had slept on a patient midway in an operation.
“If it was known already, why this particular doctor was deputed to the camp. Imagine if it could have led to causalities?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary (Health ) Vineet Chawdhry told the Indian Express that Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) has directed by the government to hold a probe into the episode.
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