FG tasked on medical regulatory board to stem negligence

Stakeholders at the Faculty of Public Health had stressed the need for the Federal Government to reconstitute the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to stem increasing cases of medical negligence in Nigeria.

Professor Oladele Kale, a foremost public health expert and chairman at the occasion said that without the board, erring doctors cannot be tried and if found negligent punished.

Kale, who remarked that the board’s reconstitution was long overdue, declared “if a doctor mistreats you badly now, there is no body you can report to now because the board is not there. From what the registrar says, there are plenty of cases which he cannot handle until the board is properly reconstituted.”

The expert, noting that the body was a professional body and not political, said there is a certain standard of medical practice that is expected and as anything  short of this may be tantamount to medical negligence.

According to him, “the board can find you guilty of negligence if you did not do what you are supposed to have done or did what you are not supposed to have done.”

Professor Paul Osuhor, a medico-legal consultant and Obaseki of Umunede Kingdom who gave the 2016 annual Faculty of Public Health lecture in Ibadan, said in any medical negligence action, a defendant is expected to meet the appropriate standard of care and whether this defendant met this standard are the two very important issues to be considered by the courts.

According to him, “in order to establish negligence, a plaintiff must establish and prove that a defendant owed him a duty of care, that this duty was breached and that the breach caused the damage.”

That about 40 per cent of medical negligence claims by the plaintiffs succeed, even in United Kingdom, Osuhor attributed to circumstantial evidence usually provided in court, which are usually incomplete and unsatisfactory.

That doctor do not fall foul of medical negligence, he urged “we must go back to doing our duties to our clients” adding “cases above one’s capacity should be referred rather than struggling. By referring, you will be saving the life or preventing complication.”

On rape cases, he said medical doctors are not helping their conviction as the court usually end up relying more on circumstantial evidence.

“The doctor says they have found seminal fluid in the vagina. Is it that of the accused? No, they have not examined the accused to find out of if the seminal fluid was actually his. There are many lacunas, so the judge just set the person free.”

On having police report to treat life threatening emergency cases, Osuhor said there was no law that inhibits attending to such emergencies, adding that the Hippocratic Oath demand that saving life should be paramount.