‘Should not have let her go’: Telangana man whose wife died in govt sterilisation camp

Sushma was among 34 women who underwent the Double Puncture Laparoscopy (DPL) procedure for sterilisation at a state-run Community Health Centre (CHC). Four women died.
Mailaram Sushma's husband breaks into tears while holding his toddler daughter.
Mailaram Sushma's husband breaks into tears while holding his toddler daughter.
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Twenty-two-year-old Sushma and her husband Eshwar lived in Ibrahimpatnam with their two children – a four-and-half-year-old boy and a two-and-half-year-old-girl. Recently, the couple decided to go for family planning. They found out that on August 25, sterilisation services would be provided at a nearby government hospital. Sushma was among 34 women who underwent the Double Puncture Laparoscopy (DPL) procedure for sterilisation that day, at the state-run Community Health Centre (CHC) in Ibrahimpatnam in Telangana’s Ranga Reddy district. The couple believed it would be a simple outpatient procedure but it turned fatal as Sushma became one of the four victims who lost their lives to alleged negligence.

“I should not have let her go there. I unnecessarily sent her and it took her life. We never thought this would happen,” laments Eshwar. According to Eshwar, Sushma felt uneasy after the procedure, but they believed it was normal. However, after they reached home, she began to complain of body pain and diarrhoea. The next morning, on August 26, Eshwar took her to the Nizam's Institute Of Medical Sciences (NIMS) hospital in Hyderabad. “There the doctors said her blood pressure was falling, and she died the next day,” Eshwar Mailaram told TNM, unable to hold back his tears.

The Telangana State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has now issued a notice to Rangareddy district Collector seeking a report on the circumstances that led to the deaths of the four women. All the four women hail from families of vulnerable sections from the villages in Ibrahimpatnam, Manchal mandals. According to officials, around 30 other women went through the same sterilisation procedure at the same camp on August 25. Around 17 women are being treated at NIMS while 13 are being treated at Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad. 

State Health Minister Harish Rao, who took stock of the situation on Wednesday, said that an “infection” was found to be the cause of death. The minister also visited women who are being treated at the NIMS. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been given to the families of four deceased women.

According to district health officials, 34 DPLs were performed at the CHC on August 25, following which some of them complained of acute gastroenteritis. Many have pointed out that it seems like the health centre wanted to achieve a target and therefore slotted all the procedures on a single day. Over the last week. four women between the age of 22 and 32 died while undergoing treatment. 

An expert committee headed by the state Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivasa Rao is inquiring into the matter. District Medical and Health Officer (DMHO) Dr Swarajaya Laxmi, speaking to TNM, said “We are monitoring the condition of women who are under treatment continuously and all of them are stable. Few of them have complained about wounds and this is being addressed.”

Dr Laxmi said they are yet to get the complete reports of all four cases of death but as per the primary information infection could have been the cause of deaths.

When asked about the SHRC notices following allegations of lapses in the DPL procedure, she said: “We will give the response shortly. At the moment we are working towards stabilising the situation.”

Dr Sridhar, the superintendent incharge of the hospital has been placed under suspension by the authorities. However, some reports said the action was taken against the wrong person instead of the doctors who performed DPLs. Responding to this the DMHO said: “Being the Superintendent of the CHC he was supposed to follow the protocol to avoid infections. He was suspended for failing to ensure the safety measures. The licence of the doctor who performed DPLs has also been cancelled.” 

It was alleged that not sterilising the DPL equipment properly could have led to infection. DPH has also said that they’re looking into the allegations of performing DPLs beyond the permitted number within the span of hours.  

Dr Sandeep Singh Yadav, National Secretary, Indian Medical Association (IMA), expressed concern over the manner in which DPLs were conducted. “There should be at least 45 minutes of break between each DPL surgery if it is being done by a single doctor. The equipment sets need to be put in cidex antiseptic solution after each surgery for at least 15 minutes. There was no need for conducting that many surgeries in a single day,” said Dr Yadav.

Dr Yadav also said that the DPLs should be conducted by adhering to safety measures. Women patients also need counselling, he said. “Conducting DPLs merely for numbers and for the sake of monetary schemes without considering the age of the women would result in complications. Higher authorities should be more vigilant on the DPL camps,” he said.

Samples collected from the deceased women have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for chemical analysis to ascertain the exact reason that led to the deaths of women.

TNM reached out for a response from District Collector Rangareddy over lapses in the ambitious DPL programme conducted. The story would be updated once the response is received.

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