Ace footballer Rasheed Yekini died in the hands of some healthcare giver. Nobody has been called to answer for it. David Akingbehin has not stopped weeping because of the way his wife was treated and she consequently died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital on March 1. He alleged that negligence and unprofessional conduct of staff of the hospital caused the death because "the preferential treatment given to a patient who displaced Margaret (his wife) in the theatre killed her". His petition lies unattended to at the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). Two years before, the parents of Obaloluwa David that died of pneumonia at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) claimed they "counted four dead babies that night" as a result of exposure to jaundice, yellow fever and other severe ailments in the same hospital.
Negligence, insensitivity and professional misconduct are now commonplace in the country. There are at least 30 cases pending before the MDCN. Amputation of the wrong limb digits, missed fractures (especially the scaffold), right plaster casts and poor results from spinal procedures are common complaints in orthopaedics. Others are damage to new-borns from anoxia of forceps, failed tubal sterilisation, transfusion, injections, airways, intravenous catheters, diathermy and hot-water bottle burns during anaesthetics. There are also complaints about retention of swabs, packs, towels or instruments in the abdomen after operations, and forced imprisonment of patients who were unable to pay their bills. There are even cases that border on manslaughter but unattended to.
It is sad to note that these victims of criminal negligence and indiscretion cannot get justice or hope for it because the MDCN, the only body empowered by law, has been in a coma for over two years. Cries by the Nigerian Medical Association against erring practitioners have become an embarrassment to the body that says it believes in the MDCN Tribunal that has the status of a high court. It is the height of irresponsibility for government to allow itself to become vicariously liable for the "slaughtering" of Nigerians by these merchants of death masquerading surgeons, paediatricians, gynaecologists, dentists, psychiatrists and even herbalists. Where the duty of care to a patient is breached due to the doctor's ignorance, unskillfulness, incompetence and recklessness, and a patient suffers some bodily, mental or financial disability or even loss of life, the doctor in question has no business being in practice.
As a matter of urgent national importance, the MDCN should be constituted immediately. That the council has only functioned for four years in the last decade is insensitive and shameful. It suggests government's insensitivity to the plight of its citizens.