Deadly Sterilizations: Doctor Paid $1.22 per Patient

Stories of rushed surgeries, unsanitary conditions come out
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2014 7:56 AM CST
Deadly Sterilizations: Doctor Paid $1.22 per Patient
Indian women who underwent sterilization surgeries receive treatment at the District Hospital in Bilaspur, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.   (AP Photo)

One of the women who died in the botched India sterilization drive was told she'd receive the equivalent of 10 days' wages and be ready to return to work in the fields in 48 hours, reports the Guardian. A man received the astronomical amount of $3,250 from the government after his wife died on Monday; most in the area earn less than $5 a day. He brands the money as "useless," telling the New York Times, "Who is going to take care of my children?" Families say the women were pressured to take the money and get the surgery—the main method of birth control in the country—but cash incentives drove more than just the victims: Village "motivators" usually get about $2.44 for each patient they recruit; government nurse-midwives can see their salaries docked if they don't meet "sterilization targets"; and the surgeon involved received about $1.22 per patient.

That surgeon, Dr. RK Gupta, was arrested last night on culpable homicide charges; at least 13 women who attended Saturday's "sterilization camp" have died, and there have been more victims from a second camp (reports differ on whether Gupta was involved with that one). "The surgeries went well but the problem was with the medicines given to the women," Gupta said, according to the BBC. Indeed, owners of the factories that produce the drugs used have been called in for questioning, Reuters reports, but the exact cause is still not clear. Witnesses tell stories of a dust- and cobweb-strewn clinic and little concern for hygiene. Though Gupta says he performed 83 surgeries in six hours Saturday, one nurse who assisted said it was more like two hours. Government rules cap a surgeon's daily maximum at 35 operations, per the BBC. (More sterilization stories.)

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