A conversation between two doctors and the husband of critically injured Madhumita Halder at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday night typifies the insensitivity that hundreds of patients and their families encounter at state-run hospitals every day.
Metro, which overheard every word of the conversation, reproduces the exchange.
First doctor: Write a declaration that your wife’s condition is critical, her leg may be amputated and if she dies during the operation, the blame won’t be on us.
(It was the first time in seven hours that Sunil Halder was hearing from a doctor how serious his wife’s injury was)
Husband: What? But I am not in the right state of mind to write a declaration. Do you have any format that I can copy?
First doctor: No, do it yourself. Hurry or we will do surgery on other patients ahead of your wife.
(Sunil writes, dictated by a relative of another patient. Just as he finishes writing, another doctor arrives)
Second doctor: Now read out loudly what you have written.
Husband: I have difficulty reading without glasses.
Second doctor: Nyakami korchhen?
Husband: Really, I am not in the proper state of mind.
Second doctor: Jottoshob nyakamo!
(The doctors share a laugh as they walk into the operating theatre with the declaration)
Sunil, 48, said on Thursday that one of the nurses abused his wife even as she was crying in pain. Madhumita had by then spent seven hours without medical intervention to save her left leg, crushed by the bus from which she had slipped and fallen while waiting to alight. “The nurse screamed at my wife, asking her to sit properly and not lie down while she wrapped a gown around her,” Sunil said.
Madhumita, who was injured around 3.30pm on Wednesday, was finally operated around 3am on Thursday. Till late on Thursday, doctors were unsure whether the surgery had been successful.
“The doctors are not telling me whether she can walk normally or they will have to amputate her leg. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have the money to take her somewhere else,” Sunil, who earns around Rs 4,500 a month as a masseur, said.
The couple’s daughter Reema, a Madhyamik examinee, was returning home from her examination centre with her mother when the accident occurred. “My mother’s blood was all over my clothes. I am unable to sleep or study. I don’t know how I will write my history paper tomorrow,” the 17-year-old said.
Reema, who suffers from a chronic medical condition, was to appear for Madhyamik last year but was taken ill before the exams.