I've been following this horrible story out of India the last few days. Over a dozen women have died and dozens others become seriously ill after undergoing a tubal ligation, part of the government's attempt to rein in out of control birth rates in that developing nation.
Initially suspicion fell on the surgeon, Dr. R. K. Gupta. He reportedly performed 83 sterilization procedures in a span of six hours, though some witnesses claim it was as little as two hours. For all that work he received $100. That is a short day for him because he reportedly has done as many as 300 procedures in one day. The rules say no more than 30 sterilizations should be done at a time. However his breach of protocol didn't seem to affect his standing as the local government honored him last January for having performed 50,000 tubal ligations.
Patients describe the clinic as an assembly line. Each case was performed in a matter of minutes with only local anesthesia. There was little regard for patient discomfort. With such a fast turnover, there was little time for proper sterilization of the surgical instruments. Dr. Gupta reportedly dipped his equipment into a pool of disinfectant just long enough for one patient to be taken off the procedure table while another one was put on. While that may be the standard of care over there, that would be a "Saw" horror movie here in the U.S.
Now there are reports that other women have fallen sick after receiving sterilization. Fingers are now being pointed at possibly tainted samples of ciprofloxacin and ibuprofen that each woman is given after the surgery.
Regardless of the cause of these women dying after attempting to control their reproduction, it is very sad that so few Indian men will do the same thing. Up to 37% of Indian women have their tubes tied, the highest in the world, versus less than 1% of men with vasectomies. Vasectomy is a safe, outpatient procedure that really can be done in just a few minutes with a much lower risk for major complications like sepsis or organ injury. The Indian government even offers higher cash incentives for men to undergo sterilization. Men receive 2,000 rupees ($33) while women get $1,400 ($23) for going through a much riskier and invasive operation.
A husband of one of the victims was interviewed after receiving $3,300 as compensation from the state. He complained it will do him no good now as he has three children to take care of on his own. Perhaps he should have sucked it up as a man and gotten a vasectomy instead having his poor dead wife suffer because he couldn't bear the thought of having his scrotum cut.