Experts Task Doctors On High Standard Practices
By Edith Okofu
Medical experts have advised doctors across the country to maintain high level of professionalism and proper standard in handling patients to avoid being victim of litigation in medical practice.
Speakers drawn from both medical and legal profession gave their separate advice and tutorial on way out of litigation while in practice in Lagos during the 12th Scientific Conference and Annual General meeting organised by the association of resident doctors Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja, Lagos.
The conference with the theme: “Litigation in Medical Practice, the Doctor Defence”offered professionals the opportunity to proffer solution to the service of dispute between doctors and patient which have affected the medical practice in Nigeria and presently a serious problem that may affect the health need of Nigerians if urgent steps are not taken.
The Conference keynote Speaker, Professor Clement Osime, a Professor of Surgical Oncology, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), who spoke on the theme of the conference, enumerated step by step which doctors should take to avoid becoming victim of litigation as Nigerians, have joined the global world people to seek for their rights once it is infringed upon.
He urged the doctors to abide by the ethics of the profession and always remember the Oath they took to protect lives.
He said patients desire to be shown love and doctors should be polite and show some empathy for their patient “don’t allow your social standing to affect the way you behave to your patient “he said.
Professor Osime further enumerated that: “in providing adequate services and care to your patient, you can refer patient to another hospital if you can not handle the case, work within the limit of your professional competence, be willing to consult with your colleague, be competent when making a diagnosis or providing treatment, keep clear accurate medical records, pay due regard to efficacy and use of resources in discharging your duties”.
He also added that for any doctor to excel in the profession and keep off from litigation he or she must also listen to patients and respect their views and also give relevant information to patients. While warned the doctors not to use the position to establish improper relationship with their patients or relatives of patients and also cautioned the doctors not to divert patient directly to another hospital without due approval.
The guest speaker further urged doctors to make suitable plan for their patients when they are not around and also avoid accepting gift, travel grant and hospitality from patient with emphasis on companies because it can implicate doctors in the law court if the patient went back to office and over invoice what he paid.
Professor Osime further counseled the doctors on what to do to avoid problems with patients that can seek redress at the law court. He also admonished the doctors on legal protection while performing duties in compliance with professional and operational standards.
He warned medical practitioners to refuse patients’ wishes that is in conflict with rules and regulation, professional standard and ethics of the medical practice.
Also speaking at the event, Dr Olugbenga Oseni, chairman of Lagos branch of Nigeria Medical Association, described the issue of litigation in medical practice as a ‘serious matter’ which he said has make doctors not putting their best because of its fear, the situation he said made many patient to loss their lives.
He noted that if a doctor is suspended or sacked in a department for minor issue the management will not replace such and the remaining doctors will be made doing the job and this will further make the job difficult.
Another Speaker at the event, Professor Oluwarotimi Akinola, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lagos State University College of medicine, explained that litigation is a major issue presently affecting the medical practice in Nigeria. But noted that henceforth every case will be treated as a potential case.
He revealed that presently in many hospital there is the fear to treat lawyers, especially now that the country is faced with the biggest challenge of poor electricity ‘so no doctor can take the risk’, he stated.
Also reacting on the conference, one of the panelists, Imrah Shitta-Bey, said what the doctors in Nigeria are experiencing could be attributed to age long problem of less concern that is people can do anyhow which allow everything to break down in the system.
He advise doctors to go back to the professionalism and urged the Association of Resident Doctors to set a high standard for all his members henceforth “then should rise up” he said.
Earlier in his remark, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) Lagos State University hospital, Professor Adetokunbo Fabamwo acknowledge that there are many issues which needed to be resolved as regard the welfare of doctors in the state hospital, but non of the issue have lost relevance, adding that as we move into the year 2020 the management of the hospital will address all issues in the new year.
In his opening remark the President of the Association of Resident Doctors (LASUTH) Ikeja, Dr. Fatai Balogun, said the conference become necessary as “there has been some awakening call among lawyers to look into our books is it for want of justice for patients? Is it for selfish target of increase in lawyers take home? these and many more concerns informed the choice for the theme of the conference :”litigation in medical practice :the Doctors Defence.
He lamented the scourge of brain drain as it is affecting the hospital and the entire medical profession and in LASUTH, the issue is made more worse due to inadequate motivational welfare package to staff, low take home package due to heavy taxation and nonavailability of residential quarters among other.