Indian doctors question decision to fly rape victim to Singapore

Featured - January 9th, 2013
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New questions on the medical treatment of the victim in the New Delhi rape case have emerged as the trial of the five accused men begins behind closed doors.

Doctors questioned the government’s decision to fly the 23-year old victim to a hospital in Singapore, 4,000 kim from New Delhi, when she was already in an “extremely critical condition”. She died 48 hours later of multiple organ failure at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

“It was ethically and morally wrong to have taken her out, given that she was sinking and her chances of survival were next to zero at that stage,” a doctor at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

“Such a thing raises false hopes in the minds of the family, the community. No doctor in his right mind would do this, unless you want to get the patient off your back.”

Another doctor who was consulted for the woman’s treatment at New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital said she had been getting the best possible treatment in India.

Security officials said they feared the protests would escalate if the woman had died in New Delhi while government officials said they were only considering her well-being.

“The idea was to give her the best possible treatment,” said Harish Rawat, a government minister who attended a cabinet meeting on the woman’s condition and efforts to save her.

“I don’t think the idea was to run away from the problem. Death here or death abroad would still have the same impact,” he said. “We felt if there was a chance to save her, it should be tried.”

The death of the young medical student ignited an outpouring grief and outrage following massive protests that sought to put pressure on the government to address the recurrence of violence against women.

Meanwhile, three of the accused men will plead not guilty to the charges, their lawyer said on Wednesday.