Poor Rural Health System in India

Authors: Arif M. Shaik, MD


A 25-year-old female presented to a rural hospital in India after being bitten on the leg by a snake. According to an eyewitness, the snake appeared to be a Russell's viper, and the patient was not seen until 10 hours postbite. On presentation, her blood pressure was 100/60, heart rate was 85, and respiratory rate was 13. She appeared drowsy and cyanotic. Both she and her husband were construction workers, earning $50 to 75 a month; hence they could not afford antivenom at the private physician's office. Being a government-led facility, our hospital could provide free antivenom. The patient's situation deteriorated, requiring a ventilator, which our rural hospital lacked. We intubated and ambu-bagged her for 4 hours while arrangements were made to transfer her to a tertiary center. A week later, she expired.

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