The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clinic to clinic in denture distress

Calcutta, June 19: Two minutes was all it took. But Monorama Gayen had to run around for more than three hours from one hospital to another before doctors could relieve her life-threatening agony.

Around 9.30 this morning, 48-year-old Monorama, a resident of Barasat, accidentally swallowed her denture for two front teeth.

It was past 4 when an ENT surgeon at SSKM hospital pulled it out. “If this simple operation had been delayed any further, she would have died,” said the surgeon later. Monorama is recuperating in the hospital.

She was rushed to a local doctor as soon as she swallowed her denture. He said an X-ray was needed to determine where it was lodged in her body.

He said a simple procedure with the aid of an oesophaguscope — an instrument used to pull out foreign objects swallowed accidentally, mostly by children — to bring it out. “All you have to do is go to the Barasat hospital where they will do the needful,” the doctor advised.

Monorama and Uday Shankar, her 17-year-old son, reached the hospital around 1 pm. “Doctors at the emergency ward saw her and issued a ticket, but told us to try our luck elsewhere as they did not have the expertise to help her. My mother was developing breathing problems and was vomiting, but no doctor would listen,” Uday said.

The doctors on duty referred Monorama to “any state-run hospital”. The scribbled note on the hospital ticket did not name any. After much persuasion, doctors asked Uday to go to NRS Medical College and Hospital, a referral hospital for North 24-Paraganas.

Monorama, gasping for breath now, and son reached NRS hospital around 2.15 pm. “By the time we reached NRS, her situation had worsened considerably,” said Alauddin, a neighbour who had accompanied them.

She was rushed to the emergency ward, where a long queue awaited them. The on-duty doctors at NRS refused to admit Monorama and asked her son to go elsewhere.

“They told us they did not have the equipment to remove her denture. We asked them to at least give us a ticket and get an ENT specialist to see her. All our pleas fell on deaf ears,” complained Alauddin. The Gayen family set out for SSKM hospital across the length of the city.

It was past 4 pm, when the reached reached the ENT department at SSKM, where surgeon Arunavo Sengupta was asked to take a look at the patient. “I conducted a X-ray, pin-pointed the exact location of the denture and took her to the operation theatre. It took us two minutes to remove the denture with the aid of an oesophaguscope,” he said.

Authorities at Barasat hospital refused to comment on the incident. The deputy superintendent of NRS confirmed that ENT specialists were available when Monorama had reported. “We do have the necessary equipment to take out dentures. If the family lodges a complaint we will inquire into the matter,” said D.K. Jha.

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