A student and her husband went to take up their new post in rural North East India. That same night a woman with prolonged obstructed labour was bought to them. Her only chance was an emergency Caesarean section.
With no electricity they performed the operation – patient on the ground, instruments boiled over a kerosene stove by the light of a hurricane lamp.
– Anaesthetist, India
As Dr Rebecca Jacob makes clear in her interview for International Women’s Day, unsafe surgery in India isn’t a case of unwillingness – it’s context that can kill.
We’ve worked with hospitals across the country to put pulse oximeters in the hands of anaesthesia providers who need them. Environment-appropriate monitors, that won’t cut out when the electricity does.
Could she think of a case where a pulse oximeter made the difference between life and death?
“All my cases!” she told us. “I wouldn’t think of doing anaesthesia now without one, if I can help it.
“Oximeters have made a huge difference to our care of children, more than anything – because children do get hypoxic faster than adults, and it is more difficult to tell early hypoxia in dark-skinned children.
“It gives us an indication that something is going wrong, way ahead of it descending into an irretrievable situation.”
At the same time, it’s vital to remember that the oximeter doesn’t save lives – the anaesthesia provider does, be it by the bedside or even a kerosene stove.
“We have to keep track of what’s happening, because monitors are just that. We cannot do without the human factors. That’s where the Checklist and teamwork comes in, and why the Lifebox education package provided with the pulse oximeter is so important.”