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Spacing out surgeries could’ve saved Pavagad women: DHO

After preliminary investigations, the district health department has terminated the services of one doctor and two support staff under the National Health Mission.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 03:06 IST

Bengaluru: Apparent lapses in surgical procedures and infections at the government maternity hospital in Pavagad taluk in Tumakuru district are reported to have resulted in the tragic death of three of the seven women who underwent various surgeries. 

After preliminary investigations, the district health department has terminated the services of one doctor and two support staff under the National Health Mission. A doctor and two support staff hired on a permanent basis have been suspended as well. 

The administrative medical officer at the three-month-old hospital has also been replaced.

Anjali, 20, from Rajavanti village in the taluk, along with Anita, 30, from Virlagondi, died shortly after undergoing caesarean deliveries, followed by tubectomies. Describing the horrifying ordeal, Ratnamma, a relative of Anjali, said, “Even while they wheeled her in to treat the infection, she wanted to see her baby. She has another young child. How will they survive without her? The question is keeping us up at night.”

Anjali is survived by her two children, including the newborn, and her husband.

Varalakshmi, another relative of Anjali, questions why due procedures were not followed. “If they had told us that they did not have the facilities, we would have taken her elsewhere. Now, a life is lost because of this,” she says. Narasamma, 40, from Bydanur, succumbed to complications arising out of a botched hysterectomy. She is survived by an eight-year-old son and her husband. The failure to follow due procedures raises questions on the quality of services available for the working classes, said Govindaraju, a relative of Narasamma. “We are awaiting the reports to see exactly what went wrong and what action the government takes. But what we lost will not come back,” he says.  

‘All operations scheduled on same day’

“All seven were elective surgeries and could have been spaced out, but the hospital administration scheduled them on the same day. This may have resulted in the overburdening of the support staff and the surgeon, because surgeries would be happening in both operation theatres,” says Dr Manjunath, district health officer (DHO), Tumakuru. 

Dr Manjunath says several factors such as tight scheduling, improper sterilisation of surgical instruments, operation theatre and post-surgical complications may be behind the three fatalities. After their condition worsened, the hospital recommended that Narasamma and Anjali be shifted to Vani Vilas hospital in Bengaluru. “The two patients arrived with sepsis and multiple organ failure. The cases were serious and we could not save them,” said Dr Savitha C, the medical superintendent at Vani Vilas hospital.

Health and Family Welfare commissioner Randeep D said, “We are conducting a detailed investigation and will take action against all the staff involved. Action has been taken against six people already. The department will reissue the standard operating procedure to ensure that all public hospitals follow them without fail.” 

Detailed investigations involving blood samples, bacteria culture tests and post-mortem are underway and will reveal the factors that contributed to the infections and the deaths, Randeep said.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 03:06 IST)

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