Three days after the sterilization camp organised by the Chhattisgarh government in Bilaspur district, death toll rose to 12 out of 83 women who underwent laparoscopic tubectomies, over 50 are still in hospital, is not only a gross medical negligence but also violation of medical guidelines and procedures outlined for such operations. According to the central government’s guidelines, a medical team cannot conduct more than 30 laparoscopic tubectomies in a day, with three separate laparoscopes — that means not more than 10 tubectomies with a single instrument, as each instrument needs to be properly sterilized after every operation.
The guidelines state that if there are additional surgeons, instruments and supplies, the number of operations per team can be increased, but in no case should it exceed 50. The government’s guidelines also state that all sterilization camps must be organised only at “established healthcare facilities” recognised by the Government of India. However, the Bilaspur operations were conducted at a private charitable hospital in Pendri village which has remained closed, almost abandoned, for about a year now.
Even then, it puts a cap of 10 operations by a single surgeon with a single instrument; in Bilaspur, just one doctor conducted 83 operations with one instrument in five hours — less than four minutes per operation.
According to the available records, this was not the first time that so many tubectomies were conducted in a single day. Officers of the family planning department noted that there has not been a single instance in the last several years when the number of laparoscopic tubectomies conducted at a camp by a doctor in a day was less than the prescribed ten. “This figure often crosses 100,” said an official.