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Hacked TN doc was anesthetist; operated on pregnant woman

By Anita

Tamil Nadu
Tuticorin (TN), Jan 5: The town of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu has been shocked by the bizarre case where a lady doctor was hacked to death by a man who alleged that it was medical negligence from the doctor's part that led to his pregnant wife's death. The case has now taken a strange turn after a popular newspaper exposed that the slain doctor was not qualified to treat a pregnant woman and was in reality, an anesthetist.

The doctor identified as Dr T.R. Sethulakshmi, was not qualified to carry out the complex operation, since she was neither a gynaecologist nor a surgeon. The patient, 26-year-old Nithya arrived at Sethulakshmi's clinic following stomach pain. She was six months pregnant. Following this, the doctor decided to operate on Nithya to remove the dead foetus from her womb.

During the course of the operation, Nithya developed complications and was referred to another hospital close by. She died en route to the AVM hospital. It was too late by the time she reached the hospital where she was declared brought dead.

Nithya's family alleges that it was the doctor's 'lethargic and money-minded' nature that led to her death. They also claimed that Sethulakshmi refused to touch Nithya until they paid up Rs 10,000 as deposit. Kanagalakshmi, Nithya’s mother-in-law has been quoted as saying, "She made us wait for two hours and attended to the girl only after her husband Mahesh brought the money."

Mahesh, Nithya's husband who was disturbed by the turn of events, went to Sethulakshmi's clinic along with three accomplices and hacked her to death. He was arrested by the police on Tuesday.

In a stunning revelation by the newspaper Deccan Chronicle, it was found that Dr. Sethulakshmi was an anesthetist at the ESI Hospital in Thoothukudi and also ran a clinic close to her residence.

A senior neonatal specialist, who did not want to be identified, stated, "Such a complex case of intra-uterine death of 25-week foetus, with the patient developing life-threatening HELPP syndrome, must be attempted only in an ICU setting. This patient should have been handled by an obstetrician, not an anesthetist."

Another medical practitioner also added, "Dr Sethulakshmi should have referred the patient to AVM straightaway."

A popular consumer rights activist, K. Desikan has been quoted as saying, "It is irrational that the medical fraternity has now announced strike on this issue. I am not justifying violence by an affected patient’s family, but then, medical negligence is not taken seriously in India whereas in the West, doctors lose licenses for such mistakes. You can see such announcements in medical journals such as Lancet and BMJ. We used to treat doctors as gods but now, doctors consider themselves gods."

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