Doctors react to alleged detention of patients in hospitals

on   /   in Health 12:10 am   /   Comments

By CHIOMA OBINNA

In recent times, there have been several reports of Nigerian hospitals holding patients hostage following inability of the latter to settle their treatment bills. This practice, which has been observed in public and private hospitals has elicited concern among health watchers and the  populace to a far extent.

Good Health Weekly sought views of medical doctors on  professional ethics. Excerpts

It is abnormal — Dr. Anthony Omolala, National President Association of Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria

A hospital runs as a business and also as a social service, especially private hospitals are self sustaining.  If that hospital hasn’t got provision  for social responsibility, it can work out terms and arrangement.  If there is a good social system, or family support, social workers can actually get in touch with the family of the patient.

It cannot be called detention but it is keeping the patient for sometime hoping that relatives will bring money. But to keep a patient for two months is unwarranted and quite abnormal.

It is not unethical — Dr. Osahon Enabulele,  President, Nigeria Medical Association

This has nothing to do with ethical conduct, if anything all, the bridge of ethics would have come into place if a patient came into the facility and was not attended to, especially if it was an emergency. This is certainly ethical bridge; the first responsibility is to save life.

It does not bother so much on ethical issues. What I expect the professional to do as a way of sorting out issues like this is to go the extra mile to inform local authorities or the state government where the patients come from and put the case before them or even religious bodies and expect them to come to his aid. I will not put the blame squarely on the professional but he has done his duty ethically by saving a life.

Is it lawful for a patient to come into the hospital without paying his bills? Keeping of the patient is the consequence of an action of the patients which is failure to pay the Bill of the man who has provided services.

People should also put themselves in the shoes of the providers of care otherwise what you are going to do is to discourage a lot more Nigerian professionals from offering free services and you will now come back to the era where people will now want to demand as a matter of compulsion the payment of certain fees before they can now allow you into their facilities.

It is a social issue.  Is it ethical for a hospital to dispense drug to a patient in need who does not have money?  You see, a patient who is dying and you used what you have to treat the patient and the patient is not able to pay and you allow the patient to go and then you have another patient that does the same thing.

Private hospitals are at liberty to operate in terms of charges and payment.  Whatever they have to do to be able to get their money paid to them, they are entitled to it.  There is nothing unethical about asking a patient to pay about asking a patient to pay for services rendered and if that patient is not able to pay, keeping that patient in the hospital until payment is made; there is nothing unethical about it.

Ordinarily when you look at the social services that we render as doctors or health personnel in the surface of it, it is not right to detain a patient but what we normally do is to do a quick social economic assessment of those patients. There are two categories, those who can afford to pay and  simply don’t want to pay and those who in the real sense cannot actually afford to pay.

From the assessment you will discover what the reasons are. At that level the doctor comes in with oath of professionalism to decide. But remember at the end of the day, the doctor must  pay the health workers and other
staff of the hospital apart from paying for the consumables procured to save the life of that patient. Ordinarily it is not right.

Once you have performed your own duty as a doctor, it is reasonably expected that patients should pay as a compensation for what you have done.

It is a social issue — Dr. Francis Faduyile  Chairman, NMA, Lagos State branch

This has nothing to do with ethical conduct, if anything all, the bridge of ethics would have come into place if a patient came into the facility and was not attended to, especially if it was an emergency. This is certainly ethical bridge; the first responsibility is to save life.

It does not bother so much on ethical issues. What I expect the professional to do as a way of sorting out issues like this is to go the extra mile to inform local authorities or the state government where the patients come from and put the case before them or even religious bodies and expect them to come to his aid. I will not put the blame squarely on the professional but he has done his duty ethically by saving a life.

Is it lawful for a patient to come into the hospital without paying his bills? Keeping of the patient is the consequence of an action of the patients which is failure to pay the Bill of the man who has provided services.

People should also put themselves in the shoes of the providers of care otherwise what you are going to do is to discourage a lot more Nigerian professionals from offering free services and you will now come back to the era where people will now want to demand as a matter of compulsion the payment of certain fees before they can now allow you into their facilities.

It is a social issue.  Is it ethical for a hospital to dispense drug to a patient in need who does not have money?  You see, a patient who is dying and you used what you have to treat the patient and the patient is not able to pay and you allow the patient to go and then you have another patient that does the same thing.

Private hospitals are at liberty to operate in terms of charges and payment.  Whatever they have to do to be able to get their money paid to them, they are entitled to it.  There is nothing unethical about asking a patient to pay about asking a patient to pay for services rendered and if that patient is not able to pay, keeping that patient in the hospital until payment is made; there is nothing unethical about it.

Ordinarily when you look at the social services that we render as doctors or health personnel in the surface of it, it is not right to detain a patient but what we normally do is to do a quick social economic assessment of those patients. There are two categories, those who can afford to pay and  simply don’t want to pay and those who in the real sense cannot actually afford to pay.

From the assessment you will discover what the reasons are. At that level the doctor comes in with oath of professionalism to decide. But remember at the end of the day, the doctor must  pay the health workers and other
staff of the hospital apart from paying for the consumables procured to save the life of that patient. Ordinarily it is not right.

Once you have performed your own duty as a doctor, it is reasonably expected that patients should pay as a compensation for what you have done.

    Print       Email