Kerala woman lives with a pair of forceps in her stomach for five years after C-section, hospital says no pincers missing

Harshina Malayil Kulangara is now on an indefinite protest demanding action against those responsible for her trauma, and fair compensation.

ByGeorge Michael

Published Jul 25, 2023 | 3:54 PMUpdatedJul 25, 2023 | 5:45 PM

Mix up during a surgery in Kerala government hospital

Harshina Malayil Kulangara lived with constant pain in her stomach for five years, till a doctor suggested a CT scan in 2022.

The mother of three underwent the scan as recommended and returned to the doctor with the result, which showed the image of a pair of forceps, 12 cm long and six cm wide, in her stomach. It was then surgically removed in September.

Kulangara had undergone a Caesarian section at the Government Medical College in Kozhikode in 2017. She said she had to bear the pain and the pair of forceps for the past five years due to medical negligence.

The medical college hospital refuted the charge, saying none of its forceps had gone missing. It then passed the buck on the taluk hospital at Thamarassery, where the woman had undergone C-sections twice, in 2012 and 2016.

Related: Family accuses Chennai hospital of amputating toddler’s arm

The trauma

Two months after the third C-section at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, Kulangara started getting pain in the stomach. She consulted several doctors, but none of them could get to the root of the ailment until the CT scan was recommended.

Photos of Harshina and medical college

Harshina and the Medical College Hospital. (supplied)

After undergoing the surgery to remove the misplaced pair of forceps, Kulangara complained against the medical college and approached the health minister demanding action against the negligent doctors and nurses.

Minister Veena George ordered two department-level inquiries. Both committees initially ruled out negligence on the part of the medical college since no forceps had gone missing from the hospital.

The case went against the hospital after the woman produced the result of an MRI scan done in Kollam in 2017. It did not show the presence of any metal in her body.

Kulangara is now travelling 10 km from her residence at Pantheerankavu to the medical college, where she has been staging a protest, demanding action against those responsible for leaving the forceps in her and hefty compensation.

“I am prepared to continue the strike for justice for even 5,001 days,” she said.

Related: Doctors leave cotton pad in woman’s abdomen during C-section

Panel to examine police report

Kulangara demanded to know how the forceps ended up in her, resulting in continuous pain, repeated infections, and surgeries. She insisted that all investigation reports should be made public, and the culprits should be brought to book.

Kozhikode medical College ( Creative commons)

Kozhikode Medical College ( Creative Commons)

Earlier, the state Cabinet had decided to provide ₹2 lakh as compensation to Kulangara. She refused to accept it.  “What good is ₹2 lakh to me? The pain I endured for five years is beyond comprehension,” she told reporters.

A police investigation report said the forceps belonged to the Kozhikode Medical College.

A senior doctor, a PG doctor, and two nurses were named as suspects in the case. The district medical officer has called for a meeting of an eight-member expert committee on 1 August to scrutinize the police report.

“If the committee confirms the finding of the police report, then the accused can be booked in the case. However, if the expert committee finds the police report inconclusive, further action cannot be taken against the hospital,” police sources said.

Kulangara had complained to the Kozhikode city police commissioner on 26 February.

“Nobody should face such a painful experience due to medical negligence. If anything happens, there must be a solution at the earliest. I will continue my protest till the culprits are caught,” she said

The Kozhikode Medical College Hospital was not immediately available for comment.