Medical Negligence, a System Failure in Nigeria, Says Specialist

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A cross-section of patients and their relatives waiting to be attended to by medical practitioners at LASUTH

An Accident and Emergency Specialist, Dr Kadiri Oluwaseyi Kazeem, has described medical negligence as an overall healthcare system failure in Nigeria, which should not be seen as a professional challenge, but a major issue for the entire healthcare delivery system, that requires urgent attention.

Medical negligence is the incorrect, careless, or poor treatment of a patient by a doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other healthcare providers. In Nigeria, more often than none, when prompt care or attention is not given to a patient, it could be misinterpreted as negligence.

Dr Kazeem, who works at Salus Health Consultants, said all stakeholders in the system, including patients and their relatives, practitioners and government share part of the blame, urged government to ensure adequate staffing of public health facilities.

He made this remarks in an exclusive interview with Pharmanewsonline , relating it to the recent development  that led to the death of ex-BBNaija Housmate, Patrick Fakoya  popular known as Rico Swavey.

Recall that late Swavey was rushed to Doren Hospital on 11 October, 2022, following a motor vehicle accident and it was alleged that nurses were recording the deceased when he was in need of urgent medical attention instead of attending to him. He was pronounced dead on 13 October, 2022.

“Nigerians generally believe that when they bring an emergency patient to the hospital, every other person need to drop what they’re doing irrespective of what the other patients need. This is a wrong notion because there could also be someone having an emergency at the same time but they believe all attention should be shifted to their own person. So these are some of the issues to addressed”, he explained.

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He also asserted that lack of patience on patients’ part usually lead to assault of medical professionals which unfortunately has its own drawbacks.

“Doctors and nurses normally want to attend to patients, but when patients are not coordinated to follow protocols, which may make the whole hospital rowdy, they are turned back.

“So, I think it’s not really the fault of medical practitioners, neither is it a medical negligence on our part. It’s a health system failure,” he said.

Speaking on his experience with accident patients, he said public and private accident and emergency facilities are two different ball games entirely.

According to him:  “As someone who works in a private facility right now but also had experience working in a public accident and emergency facilities, it’s two different ball games entirely.

“For the government facility, patients come in and most times, people who presents us to the patient don’t actually know anything about the patient. Typically, people just bring them in because they accidentally ran them over with their cars or motorcycles not because they actually know them. Most of the time, they are unaware of the patient’s ability to pay for the medical expenses, their overall health history, and so on.

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“So for us (medical professionals), it now becomes how to get those immediate variables asides from what the hospital can provide in the emergency room such as what you need to get from the pharmacy, it becomes an issue because those who brought in the patient are not ready to financially take care of the patient.”

Kazeem also disclosed that health insurance in Nigeria as well as having the right data/statistics hasn’t really improved in order to help practitioners know everybody’s record so as to be able to make informed decisions.

“So that has always been the backlog. It’s not just a person thing, it’s rather a health system failure,” he said.

“But for a private facility, that also has its own challenges.  When they bring in accident patients and we begin to do our best to stabilize them and when we’re done, it becomes an issue footing the bills. Who do we hold responsible? So that’s always the issue,” he said.

To verify the assertion of Dr Kazeem, our correspondents spoke with few patients at the Accident and Emergency Section, of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). They however corroborated the views of the specialist, as they were given appropriate care in due time.

For Mr David Emmanuel, a motor cycle accident survivor narrated how he was promptly attended to by the medical personnel. “I had a fatal bike accident that badly affected my face. I was promptly attended to by the medical personnel on duty. They were fairly caring in terms of attention given and money wasn’t required before I was attended to except for card fee. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate them six. Medical negligence was never an issue for me, neither was I ever abandoned”, he recalled.

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Another patient, Mrs Mercy Idiong, a motor vehicle accident survivor, also commended practitioners at the centre for the care and attention given to her. “The bus I entered collided with another bus and affected two of my legs badly. Immediately I got to the emergency room, the doctor was very nice. He made sure proper care was given to me. I had no issues with the nurses or doctors or even the medication. Everything was timely”, she stated.

Concluding, Dr Kazeem said, “Accident patients generally get quick attention when they get to hospitals. At least this has always been the case in most of the places I’ve worked before I moved to private practice. And even right now, for God’s sake, why would I not attend to you? You’re paying me my money.

“All in all, we still do our best to remember that our job is primarily to first stabilize before any other thing.”

 

 

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