The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Patient released, needle inside

Raiganj, Oct. 31: The North Dinajpur administration has begun an investigation into allegations that a woman was discharged from the district hospital here with a needle used to stitch an incision still inside her uterine muscle.

Following instructions from district magistrate Manish Jain, chief medical officer of health Arijit Chakraborty set up a medical board today to probe the charge. “We have begun gathering information. We will also take immediate steps to ensure the woman’s safety,” Chakraborty said.

Duli Sarkar, 20, was brought to the Kailaganj rural hospital on October 18, when she began having labour pain. She gave birth to a boy and was taken to the operation theatre where, her family alleged, the attending gynaecologist stitched up a wound she had suffered during delivery. The doctors later realised that the curved, one-and-a-half inch needle used to stitch the wound had got lodged somewhere in her uterine muscle.

The gynaecologist under whom Duli was admitted failed to locate the needle and referred her to the district hospital.

Duli’s travails continued the same night. At the district hospital, gynaecologist Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya wrote on the X-ray requisition form a brief history of the case: “Missing needle during Episiotomy repair.” He marked the form “urgent”.

The X-ray showed the needle in her uterine muscle. But the gynaecologist could not extract it. Duli was discharged from the district hospital on October 24. The discharge certificate read: “Missing needle during Episiotomy repair, needle could not be removed even under G.A. (general anaesthesia). Discharged as such.”

The doctor did not give any advice for follow-up treatment, claimed Duli’s family.

Soon after Duli went back to her father’s house in Kunor, a village in Kaliaganj block, she fell ill. She began to bleed and was in constant pain.

Lying in her mud hut, Duli recounted the numerous times she fell unconscious while the doctors tried to locate the needle using local anaesthesia. “I still cannot move. If I try to, I get shooting pains and start bleeding,” she said.

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