By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
A Civil Society Organisation, Center for Sustainable Health Disaster Management Initiative, CSHDMI, Wednesday, threw weight behind motion on investigating medical negligence, which was moved by Hon. Jude Ogbeche Ngaji, representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency of Cross River State, resulting to deaths and permanent disabilities.
Speaking on the issue, the National Coordinator, Dr Abiodun Monjeed, said the negligence by some medical professionals has brought pain in the lives of Nigerians who have lost their loved ones and those made as persons with permanent disability.
Monjeed hailed adoption of motion on Tuesday by the House of Representatives moved by Hon. Jude Ogbeche Ngaji, representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency of Cross River State.
He said the medical profession needs serious overhaul and repositioning by the various medical associations and also by the Federal and State governments to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.
He said: “This motion by Hon. Jude Ogbeche Ngaji, representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency of Cross River State is the way to tackle this menace called medial negligence in this country.
“We support it and would want the House of Representatives to swing into action and ensure all parts of the motion read and adopted are implemented because Nigerians are looking up to you to help them out because many have died prematurely, and this could have been avoided and those who are maimed are thrown out and rejected by the society.”
He also called on the medical associations to sanitize the profession in order to instill discipline and give unconditional care to patients no matter their background.
“The medical associations have a big role to play in this matter of negligence by some of their members because they know about it, but have to go all out to sanitize the profession because innocent and helpless Nigerians are the ones bearing the brunt of this sheer negligence”, he stated.
Meanwhile, it would be recalled that the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said that, “This is indeed a great motion as you did well to capture all areas in the field. This is your first motion you are moving in the House and it is really sound and rich.”
The House of Representatives pointed increase of reports by aggrieved Nigerians of medical negligence, which most of them have lost their loved ones and those made permanently disabled.
Also the House of Representatives acknowledged the fact that the health sector lacks reliable and productive infrastructure to meet the health needs of over 200 million Nigerians.
The House also lamented the mass migration of medical professionals from the country to other parts of the world due to poor welfare and hostile environment to practice and deliver quality health care services to Nigerians.
And it added that victim families cannot bear the pains anymore but lack the wherewithal to seek redress in the law courts for compensation because of no support, while some are ignorant of their rights, and medical associations do not discipline erring members for negligence of their duties.
The motion adopted by the House reads in part, “The House further notes that the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, 2004 is the principal law regulating the medical profession in Nigeria, and provides for the registration of Medical and Dental Practitioners. It also codified the rules of professional conduct for Medical and Dental Practitioners in its Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria, 2008, the Code specifies the acceptable standard of medical and dental practice in Nigeria.
“The House is aware that the Act also establishes the Medical and Dental Practitioners Investigating Panel and the Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, where the Panel is charged with carrying out preliminary investigations of any allegation of infamous conduct professionally made against a medical practitioner, and where such allegations have merit, the Panel forwards the case to the Tribunal for trial.
“The House is also aware that medical negligence is the failure of a Medical Practitioner to exercise reasonable care in the course of discharging professional duty, thus, a registered practitioner who fails to exercise the skill or act with the degree of care expected of his experience and status in the course of attending to patients may be liable to professional negligence under the Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria, which includes: (a) failure to attend promptly to a patient requiring urgent attention when the practitioner was in a position to do so; (b) a manifestation of incompetence in the assessment of a patient; (c) making an incorrect diagnosis particularly when the clinical features were so glaring that no reasonable skillful practitioner could have failed to notice them; (d) failure to advise, or proffering wrong advice to a patient on the risk involved in a particular operation or course of treatment, especially if such an operation or course of treatment is likely to result in serious side effects like deformity or loss of an organ; (e) failure to obtain the consent of the patient (informed or otherwise) before proceeding with any surgical procedure or course of treatment, when such consent was necessary; (f) making a mistake in treatment e.g. amputation of the wrong limb, inadvertent termination of a pregnancy, prescribing the wrong drug in error for a correctly diagnosed ailment, etc; (g) failure to refer or transfer a patient in good time when such a referral or transfer was necessary; (h) failure to do anything that ought reasonably to have been done under any circumstance for the good of the patient; and (i) failure to see a patient as often as his medical condition warrants or to make proper notes of the practitioner’s observations and prescribed treatment during such visits or to communicate with the patient or his relation as may be necessary with regards to any developments, progress or prognosis in the patient’s condition.