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Indian hospital under fire after sterilized women left outside to recover

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 5:45 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
  • Of 103 procedures performed, 23 women were left out in the open, official says
  • The women had no beds after the sterilization procedure
  • They were later transferred to shelters and neighborhood homes

(CNN) -- Indian authorities have launched an investigation after sterilized women were left out in the open for hours following surgery because of lack of space.

Some of the women had no beds allotted to them after sterilization surgeries at a hospital in West Bengal state Tuesday, according to health officials.

Of 103 procedures performed, 23 women were left out in the hospital grounds for up to eight hours, said Bidhan Mishra, chief medical officer of Malda district.

They were later transferred to shelters and neighborhood homes before sunset, he said.

"They (doctors) should have made makeshift arrangements for them," Mishra said. " They didn't. It was their fault. But I can assure you this will not happen in the future."

State health secretary, Satish Chandra Tewary, called it a violation of operating procedures and ordered an investigation.

The minilaparotomy surgeries to prevent pregnancy are part of a voluntary program for state residents.

Originally, 48 women registered for the program, Mishra said, but some brought relatives along, overloading hospital resources.

"I have personally monitored the situation," he said. "All of them are in good health."

Home to 1.2 billion people, India has an acute shortage of health care professionals, with its doctor-population ratio estimated at 1:2,000, federal health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told parliament last year.

Various measures are under way to change that, including easing the process of setting up new medical colleges, Azad said.

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