On October 11, 1989, surgeons at the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai cut open Indirani’s abdomen to remove a retroperitoneal hydatid cyst. After the procedure, they sutured the surgical wounds and, a fortnight later, discharged the woman, then aged around 37 years. The doctors assured the patient and her watchman-husband Arumugam that she can carry on normal work after a few weeks.
What the absentminded surgeons failed to say was that Indirani would have to endure excruciating pain for the next 23 years. For, they had left behind a pair of surgical forceps inside her stomach. The surgeons obviously did not hunt for the missing forceps, perhaps because it is common for surgical instruments to be misplaced in a government hospital.
Indirani too did not sense anything amiss when she repeatedly encountered stomachaches all these years. Each time she went to a hospital complaining of pain, the doctors prescribed tablets and sent her away.
In May this year, when the pain became unbearable, a doctor at a private hospital conducted a detailed medical examination and recommended a Doppler scan of the abdomen. The scan report taken on June 1 revealed that a retained foreign body (broken surgical forceps) was found in her abdomen, which was the cause for stomach aches.
A shocked Indirani’s husband on Monday knocked the doors of the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) seeking justice and best medical aid for her. He also sought compensation for the sufferings she had undergone since 1989. Though the petition was not listed for hearing, considering the urgency of the matter, his counsel V Panneer Selvam moved a lunch motion in the court hall of Justice N Kirubakaran.
Moved by the woman’s plight, the judge immediately passed an interim order directing the GRH Dean to admit Indirani and provide her appropriate treatment.
The judge issued notices to State Home Secretary and Health Secretary to file their counter affidavits respond to the allegations made in the petition by June 20.