The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pregnant woman slapped to induce labour in government hospital

Calcutta, July 5: At NRS Medical College and Hospital it’s customary to whack a pregnant woman to get her to deliver the baby.

Twenty-seven-year-old Sandhya Mondol, admitted in the hospital’s gynaecology ward, was today slapped across her face and ear, causing bleeding and temporary deafness, to “induce labour” and make her “cooperate”.

Hospital staff said this was “normal practice” where labour pain was delayed. Only, in this case, the patient had been hit “far too hard”.

Sandhya, who is expecting her first child any day now, is lying in bed number 46 of the ward, unable to hear anything with her right ear. “She has become deaf after traces of blood came out of her ear. She is in deep shock and is afraid for her unborn child,” said Kali Mondol, her mother.

The Mondols have lodged a complaint with the hospital and the local police. Later in the day, hospital deputy superintendent D.K. Jha condemned the incident and said the guilty personnel would be dealt with severely.

“This should never happen in a civilised society,” he added.

Sandhya and her husband Shontu Mondol, residents of Loudon Street, arrived at NRS on July 2. After a preliminary check-up, she was admitted under consultant P.K. Banerjee.

After three uneventful days, Sandhya was wheeled into the labour room around 11 am today after she started having “mild pain” in her lower abdomen. Some post-graduate trainees, whom Sandhya does not know by name, held her along with two nurses.

“I was trying to move out of the bed, when one of the doctors slapped me. I tried to move away, but I took the blow on my right ear. I nearly lost consciousness,” Sandhya said.

Hearing her cries for help, Sandhya’s mother rushed to her side and found her writhing in pain. “I informed my son-in-law Shontu and other relatives. By the time they arrived, Sandhya’s right ear was swollen and she could barely speak as her lips had swollen too,” said Kali.

Shontu and two relatives went to the deputy superintendent’s office to lodge a complaint. “They would not let us in and did not tell us who had slapped my wife. They even took away all prescriptions so that we could not trace the doctor. They have been telling us that there is no fixed doctor under whom my wife has been admitted.”

Jha said he would find out tomorrow the name of the doctor who was supposed to look after Sandhya and of the person who slapped her.

The Telegraph traced P.K. Banerjee under whom Sandhya had been admitted. “Once I leave the hospital after the usual rounds, it is the PGT (post-graduate trainee)’s job to take care of an emergency. No one reported to me about Sandhya’s case. In any case, this should not have happened at all,” Banerjee said.

Other doctors were aghast. “Labour pain or not, how can anybody hit a pregnant woman'” asked obstetrician Purabi Mukherjee.

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