Jodhpur's Hospital of Death goes unpunished

Jodhpur: A government hospital in Jodhpur has turned into a house of death. In the last three weeks, 16 women have died, reportedly from severe medical negligence.

Fifteen of them died after delivering babies, four of whom were stillborn. The sixteenth woman - who died on Tuesday morning - had gone through a hysterectomy operation.

In each of these cases, the patients allegedly went through excessive bleeding. Early inquiries suggest this was caused by contaminated intravenous fluid that was used during and after deliveries.

Four different inquiries - one by the hospital and the others by the state and Central government - are trying to determine the cause of the deaths at Umaid Hospital, the biggest government hospital in Western Rajasthan. Experts are testing samples of the intravenous fluid to determine if it was the sole cause or a contributing factor to the tragedy. The state government set up a fifth inquiry today.

But at Umaid Hospital, those multiple deaths have prompted no action. The emergency ward - by definition meant to be open 24 hours - operates only between 3 pm and 9 am. And at 3 pm on Tuesday, at the emergency ward, we find one resident doctor on duty. None of the three senior doctors who are meant to be present are anywhere to be found.

Gita Choudhary died on Tuesday at the city's Mahatma Gandhi hospital. She was brought here nearly seven weeks ago, after undergoing a hysterectomy at Umaid Hospital that led to severe complications including relentless bleeding. Her family insists that her condition deteriorated after she was put on a drip after her operation at Umaid Hospital, and that there were no senior doctors to attend to her.

At Mahatma Gandhi hospital, doctors who attended to Mrs Choudhary say there's little to link Mrs Choudhary's death to the others at Umaid Hospital. But at the insistence of her family, the government has agreed that her case will be added to the investigation that seeks to uncover who's to blame for allowing infected IV fluids at Umaid Hospital.

Sagar and Prem Kanwar are two new mothers who barely just survived their deliveries at Umaid Hospital. They were rushed to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital two days after their babies were born, and both their cases, doctors admit, seem linked to the infected IV fluid that flowed freely at Umaid Hospital. "They are on respiratory support and their kidney and liver functions are not alright, so they are very serious, yes they are very serious ," says Dr Arvind Mathur , who is supervising their care now.  Their future looks bleak.

Senior doctors sent by the Union ministry to investigate the Umaid Hospital tragedy have blamed the hospital administration for negligence and apathy. Yet, not one person has been held accountable so far. "We have not been callous. I have been personally speaking to the state health minister as Health is a state subject."
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