In what is being called “routine,” R.K. Gupta, a doctor in India performed sterilization surgery on 83 women last weekend.
According to Reuters, gloomy rooms across India that house makeshift sterilization clinics include bloodstained sheets that aren’t changed between patients and surgeries that last all of two-minutes. Horrifically, in India, this is what passes for normal.
However, last weekend more than a dozen poor and illiterate village women that were operated on by Dr. R.K. Gupta have died from complications, and “scores” more remain sick in a hospital, many of whom are in intensive care.
Interviews with government authorities, doctors and officials revealed that Dr. Gupta broke the law by performing more than 30 sterilization surgeries in a single day. Collectively, the 83 sterilization surgeries he performed last weekend took a total of 2 hours and 35 minutes.
A police case against Dr. Gupta has been filed for causing death by negligence in the eastern Indian district of Bilaspur. In comments to the Indian media, Dr. Gupta denies committing any errors in the 83 weekend surgeries.
Experts say that the number of sterilization procedures that Dr. Gupta performed in India last weekend are not unusual, however. India is a country that sterilizes over 4 million women per year. In an effort to rein in population growth, the Indian government has taken some drastic measures.
Critics of the government’s population growth program call it a “sterilization program.” Rights groups say that mostly ill-educated women are offered money (1,400 rupees on average equaling about $23 American) and accept surgery without fulling knowing the risks. Officials are pressured by the government to keep up with their sterilization “quotas” – so often doctors like Gupta are encouraged to see more “patients” and to work faster.
DNA India reports that Gupta and his five assistants did not follow proper medical guidelines. Gupta and his team reportedly used old and un-sterile medical equipment in each of the 83 sterilization surgeries. Needles are often re-used, and patients sometimes recover from operations on dirty floors. Women were discharged immediately following the operations – many despite being diagnosed with severe blood loss and infection – with no medical followup being administered after the camp.
Dr. Gupta ran his “operation” room as such according to police inspector S.N. Shukla:
Gupta made a quick incision in his patients’ abdomen. He then cut and tied their fallopian tubes.
Two nurses moved the patients to second bed and put in their stitches.
The women, groggy from anesthesia, were then led out of the room.
Ramavtar Suryavanshi (42) said that his wife vomited for hours before finally dying.
“My wife did not inform me or anyone in the family that she was undergoing an operation. She was taken to the hospital by a health worker who told her she would get money.”
National guidelines dictate that doctors like Gupta are to spend at least 15 minutes on each operation, with a maximum of 30 sterilizations per day. However, several doctors in India stated that it was common to perform up to 90 sterilizations per day.
Reports state that 1,434 people have died from “sterilization camp” incidents between 2003 and 2012.
[Images via Reuters and The Guardian]