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Let me be sincere here: I expect this article to get me the chastisement and ire of some unscrupulous colleagues of mine in the medical profession who have embraced illegality and wanton unprofessionalism as their guiding principles.
If this article would make even one reckless doctor or nurse or any other health caregiver to shape up and practise medicine according to the guiding principles of professional excellence, then it would have been a huge success.
It is really a sad thing, because a lot of medical practitioners commit unspeakably horrible crimes and go scot-free just because majority of Nigerians are unaware of their health rights or even when they know about them, there are no available institutions and structures on ground to investigate these cases of malfeasance to a final conclusion. Because of this, doctors and other health care practitioners arrogate to themselves the power of a god- everyone else must worship and bow before them, even if by force. This ought not to be. And as such, we must take it upon ourselves to work collectively in identifying the few bad eggs in the system, who are denting the image of this nobel profession lest they cause us all to lose our worth and social value.
The follwoing are the 5 UNFORGIVABLE medical mistakes which anyone can sue his or her doctor for:
1. BREACH OF PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY
This one is like the holy grail of medical practice. It is talked about so much that it is impossible for any doctor who trained from an accredited medical school to claim to be ignorant of it. And the rule is simple: at no time should a doctor or any other member of the health team discuss or disclose the patient’s medical information or state of health to anyone who is not part of the medical team caring for him or her. The patient’s medical information must be kept confidential at all times, except at such a time when it becomes inevitable to discuss the said patient with another doctor or member of health team in order to reach a final diagnosis or agreement on the best treatment modality for the patient. If evidence, at any time, abounds that a doctor has disclosed your medical information to someone who should not be privy of such information, you have the legal backing to sue that doctor and take away his/her practicing medical licence!
2. FAILURE TO GET INFORMED CONSENT
What is informed consent? It the permission (in the form of a signed document) granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits. A bit technical, right? Here is what it means- before any doctor performs any medical procedure on you, that doctor must first explain the procedure in detail, including all the risks involved with that procedure to you, after which you can decide to give or not give the doctor the go ahead to carry out the procedure. Without your approval, it is an offence for any doctor to perform any medical procedure on you, EXCEPT at such a time when you are unconscious or in a very critical situation during which no family member of yours is available give assent to the procedure on your behalf. Any doctor found culpable of this offence can and should be sued.
3. ASSAULT OF PATIENT(S)
Assault, in any form, is an offence, even more so in the medical profession where there is zero tolerance for such. It is considered a rare privilege that we, medical practitioners, find ourselves in a position where we can save people’s lives and determine the quality of life they live subsequently. This is very rare privilege that must never be abused but should instead fill the caregiver with so much compassion to treat patients with some respect and dignity. This is the standard practice. It is part of the hippocratic oath of medical practice. So really, it becomes very worrying and quite appalling when patients complain about doctors or nurses who assaulted or are assaulting them. It is evil and criminal for a doctor to assault you physically, sexually or psychologically. If you the courage to expose that evil doctor or health care practitioner to the right authorities, he or she would adequately sanctioned and dealt with.
4. SOLICITING SEXUAL FAVOURS BEFORE TREATMEMT
This is one that is quite common in this part of the world. I first encountered it when a friend of mine told me of an instance when she visited a particular hospital (name withheld) for treatmentg for some condition she didn’t want her immediate family members to know about. The doctor who saw her, after she had made it clear she didn’t want her immediate family to know about it, threatened to expose her if she refused sex with him! Yes, it happened here in Lagos. That is just one incident out of thousands of other unreported cases. And it is very disgraceful and evil and sick. Any doctor, male or female, who solicits sexual favours from his or her patient in return for treatment is culpable of professional misconduct and hence liable to be sued and jailed! In fact, the code of medical ethics prohibits sexual relationship with a doctor and a current patient (when the patient is still undergoing treatment). So really, except a medical practitioner wants to risk litigation, it is to his or her benefit to desist from soliciting or accepting sexual gratifications, even when willingly offered to the doctor by the patient during the course of treatment.
5. COMPLICATIONS RESULTING FROM FAILURE OF THE DOCTOR TO REFER A PATIENT AT THE RIGHT TIME
Standard medical practice makes it very clear that a doctor must, quickly and without delay, refer his or her patient to the next doctor with the requisite skills to treat the patient’s condition when it becomes apparent that his (the first doctor) skill or experience is not sufficient to give the patient the best possible treatment.This is how it should be. But trust some doctors to hold on to their patients, ceasing the opportunity to extort and milk them dry until the patient’s condition detoriates to a critical stage where complications arise, and in some unfortunate instances, even death occurs. This is pure wickedness from the pit of hell! Now, if it can be proved that the said doctor truly did hold on to a patient even when he or she knew that prompt referral was mandatory and the next line of action, he or she can and should be sued for gross professional misconduct. It is one of the unforgivables of medical jurisprudence.
NB: If you have a case against any reckless, blood-sucking medical practitioner that is worthy of litigation but you don’t know how to go about it? Please be courageous enough to send us details of the said case to [email protected] or [email protected] and we shall see to it that your complaint gets to the appropriate authorities and gets acted on.