Monday, 5 September 2016

Rejection of Accident Victims by Hospitals - Fastest Route to Untimely Death

Two people, a male and female, escaped death by the whiskers on Sunday, 21, 2016, in a road traffic accident that occurred at the old tollgate, Ota, Ogun State.
                                                                                 

 The accident, which occurred around 3:15pm, was caused by a Volkswagen Vanagon bus, descending the slope from the Ilo-Awela road. It suddenly developed brake failure, in the process hitting a commercial motorcyclist and its passenger, who were critically injured.

Though the injured were rushed to the General Hospital, Ota, by officers of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Ota Unit, they were however, refused treatment on the order of the doctor on duty, Dr. Akin, until their relatives are produced, despite the fact that the victims urgently needed lifeline.

After ceaseless pleas by the team leader of the FRSC, DRC Taiwo O Adeniyi asked the doctor to apply first aid treatment to the victims before the arrival of their relatives, which fell on his deaf ears. The team decided to leave the hospital for the crash scene to remove likely obstructions from the road. But the doctor ordered the security men to lock the gate, in order to prevent them from leaving the premises with the ambulance.

But for the intervention of the Unit Commander ACC Leye Adegboyega, who immediately notified the Sector Commander RS2.2 Ogun, CC Goke Adetunji, the victims could have bled to death.

Adetunji immediately called the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa, who contacted the state Commissioner for Health, Mr. Tunde Ipaye, who in turn called the Medical Director of the hospital. The MD, who confirmed the incident, said the issue had been resolved, noting that the Medical Officer was overzealous due to the absence of patient's relatives.

Ipaye, has however, directed thorough investigation into the matter.

The Guardian learnt that the development is a regular occurrence at the General Hospital, Ota, where healthcare givers are in the habit of rejecting autocrash victims, citing one excuse or the other, which has led to the loss of many lives in recent past.

The unit commander, Adegboyega, who is a living witness to the barbaric act called on concerned authorities to call the Management of the hospital to order.

Recent incidences have shown that rejection of accident victims, by hospitals, especially government hospitals, has been the stock in trade of medical officials across the country.

Countless number of innocent Nigerians have lost their lives, not because of the injuries sustained in accidents, but because they are either rejected or left unattended by government hospitals, which are always the first port of call during such incidents.

One of the first things realised by persons who have fallen victim of these hospitals or who had lost friends or loved ones, is that death doesn't mean a thing to the doctors and nurses anymore. This includes the gatemen, cleaners and all the workers. Their hearts have become hardened, as they see these things happening on a regular basis.

One recent case is the untimely death of six Ekiti State medical officials, who died last April in auto crash, along Abuja-Kaduna expressway, on their way to attend a National Delegates Conference of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), in Sokoto.

A survivor, the Chairman, the state branch of NMA, Dr. John Akinbote told Journalists on his hospital bed that lack of immediate and proper medical attention was responsible for the death of his colleagues.

He said: "Those that died would have survived if we got good medical attention from the point of the accident to the Doka General Hospital in Kaduna. It became even worst, when we got to Doka Hospital, there was no single Doctor to attend to us and the only nurse on duty had no first aid facilities to administer treatment. When the accident happened, some of us came out and people came and tried to help in the rescue effort. I came and I found out that I did not have any fracture or serious injury. By the time the members of the Road Safety Corps came, some doctors that were severely injured had died. Five of them! But, we have two who could still survive.

"So we rushed them to the hospital. At the hospital, I was surprised when they said there was no doctor there. I was even telling the nurses, give me a pain reliever and let me put you through on how to resuscitate that man that was lying near me. But none of them attended to us. They were just running around, saying there was no this, no that," he said.

Continuing, he said; "Then, I pleaded with the Road Safety to take us to the nearest hospital away from the one we were. I said they should take us to Suleja, Kaduna, wherever, but the Road Safety said they didn't even have fuel. I told them that it was okay, that I would pay for fuel. So we left the place in search of fuel and bought the fuel on the road. But, before we got to the hospital (St. Gerard, Kaduna) the other person had died. That brought the number to six. The other very injured person, who was in the other bus also died, making the casualty seven."

With the foregoing, the question commonly asked is what is the position of government regarding erring hospitals and their officials who reject accident victims. Is there any law at all?

Head of Media, FRSC, Bisi Kazzeem told The Guardian in Abuja, that there is a law known as FRSC Act 2007 and National Road Traffic Regulations (NRTR 2012), to address the issue, noting that the commission is saddled with the legal mandate of providing rescue operations and services to victims of Road Traffic Crash (RTC), as contained in Sections 10 (3) k of the FRSC (Establishment) Act, 2007.

"In particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the provision of sub-section (2) of this Section, members of the Corps shall, subject to the provisions of this Act be charged with responsibilities for: (k) giving prompt attention and care to victims of accidents.

"Section (4) (2) of the Act now makes the rejection of those said accident victim(s) by hospitals and or medical personnel(s) an offence punishable by a N50, 000 fine. To qualify under this Section, the victim must have sustained the injury referred to in an RTC, there must have been a report or movement to the hospital, there must be a transaction between the victims or representatives who took them there before the rejection, there must be existing identifiable person's who must be seen to have rejected the victims. There must also be corroborations of the fact that the victim was rejected.

"This Section binds both the hospital and (or) its medical personnel's in criminal culpability upon a report of this rejection, if verified a notice of offence sheet is been issued to the hospital.

"This issue could sometimes lead to a court case in the hospital's acceptance of its liability as a strict liability offence such a hospital/medical personnel could also be reported to its professional body for adequate sanction(s) to be meted out on them."

He noted that the rejection of such victims have widely been criticised by Civic Rights Enforcement groups.