This week, two Indian doctors joined the ignoble ranks of the surgeon who trash-talked about her patient while he was under anesthesia and the one who forgot to remove a knife blade from a patient’s brain.
The Indian doctors and two nurses were suspended after a patient’s severed leg was used to prop up his head, according to hospital officials. The incident came to light after images and video showing the patient, identified as 28-year-old Ghanshyam, on a stretcher with his amputated limb as a headrest began to circulate.
Ghanshyam had been driving a school bus full of children when a herd of cattle appeared on the road. He swerved to avoid the animals and lost control of the bus, which flipped.
He was rushed to the hospital. When his relatives came to visit, they told local news outlets, they were horrified to find out that his leg was being used as a headrest.
His relatives implored hospital staff to provide a pillow. Their entreaties were ignored. "I repeatedly asked the doctors to intervene but they refused," Janaki Prasad, a relative, told NDTV. Eventually, she said, she went to the market to buy Ghanshyam a pillow. Things got so bad that the patient’s family transferred him to a private hospital, according to the Times of India.
The government-run hospital in Uttar Pradesh where Ghanshyam was initially taken promised "strict action" against those responsible for the headrest incident.
"We have set up a four-member committee to find out who put the severed leg under the patient’s head," administrator Sadhna Kaushik told Agence France-Presse.
According to the Press Trust of India, Kaushik said the patient was given "immediate" medical attention. "The doctor looked for something to raise his head. The patient’s attendant used the leg," she told PTI.
The incident highlights India’s struggle to provide adequate medical care. The country’s state-run hospitals are often ill-equipped, severely underfunded and stretched way too thin, according to AFP. This is especially true in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s poorest states and home to 200 million people. Last year, dozens of children died at a government hospital in the region because of severe oxygen shortages. And just last month, an unlicensed doctor was arrested for allegedly infecting at least 46 people with HIV by reusing a syringe.