On 31 December, when 26-year-old Rajkumar saw his wife Priya (24) becoming disoriented and showing signs of memory loss, he hoped that they would tide over the crisis. Little did he know that he would lose her forever in the next 48 hours.
Priya was killed allegedly due to the negligence of doctors in the Vridhachalam government hospital, where she delivered her baby on 27 December. The doctors who performed the C-Section allegedly left a cloth inside the body cavity and stitched Priya up, which led to sepsis and her untimely death.
Rajkumar and Priya’s was a love marriage, after five years of courtship. After the wedding in 2018, the couple lived in Kalar Kuppam near Aladi, around 60 kilometres from the coastal town of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. After a year of marriage, Priya conceived their first child.
“We were very happy since we wanted a baby so badly. When she conceived, she was the happiest. Her parents’ house is around five kilometres from mine and she spent her time there. I used to visit her everyday,” recollects Rajkumar.
The Night of Labour
On 27 December night, Priya’s water broke and she was rushed to the government hospital in Vridhachalam, a small town around 15 kilometres from her house. Rajkumar was out at work when he heard that his wife was in labour and rushed to the hospital to be with her.
“During the prenatal checkups everything was normal. We were hoping to have a normal delivery. But when I reached the hospital, I was told that she would need a C-Section since she got complications at this stage of labour. So I consented to that,” Rajkumar says adding that Priya delivered a baby girl.
Disorientation and Memory Loss
Priya was asked to stay in the hospital for a couple of days since she had to heal from the surgery. But, she started showing symptoms of being unwell during those days, Rajkumar points out.
“She was not lactating enough and was vomiting whatever she ate. By 30 December, things were really bad. She started forgetting us and showed phases of disorientation. She could only recognise me and not her child. She couldn’t recognise her own mother by 31 December. She constantly looked at the ceiling and did not talk to any of us,” he explains.
Fed up by the lack of attention in the hospital, Rajkumar told the nurses that he was taking his wife to JIPMER in Puducherry for further treatment and got her discharged on 31 December. In JIPMER, she was admitted directly in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with doctors rushing to save Priya.
“The doctors were baffled as to why a case which would have had a smooth normal delivery was made into a C-section delivery. They tried calling the doctors in Vridhachalam but nobody picked the calls. We didn’t know who the doctor was and hence were helpless too,” Rajkumar says.
The Last Hours
In JIPMER, doctors diagnosed Priya with severe infection to her blood, which had travelled across her body and rushed her to surgery in the wee hours of 1 January. “The doctors showed me the infected pus and also the cloth that was left inside of her by the surgeon in Vridhachalam. They were furious that someone could be this careless in surgery,” he adds. Priya was admitted to the Critical Care Unit for a few hours after her surgery, but her condition worsened. Rajkumar remembers those last hours with pain, his voice choking. “I had confidence that she will recover and hence I didn’t insist on seeing her in those last few hours,” he says, his voice filled with remorse.
Rajkumar alleges that neither the staff nor the doctors in Vridhachalam Government Hospital attended to his ailing wife. The angst of a similar thing happening to some other family pushed Rajkumar to file an FIR at the Vridhachalam police station, demanding action against the accused. Based on his complaint, the police registered an FIR under section 174 [Unnatural death] of CrPC and are investigating the case. Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Health Department has also issued notice to the doctors in the hospital, seeking explanation, based on which appropriate action will be initiated against the staff.
(This article has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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