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Monday, January 9, 2023

Killing a Doctor on Duty is an Attack on the Entire Medical Profession.

 Re - Doctor murdered By Patient's relatives in Delta state for the loss of a Patient.

Dr Uyi Iluobe - Medical doctor that was killed on duty in Delta state by patients' relatives
Picture of late Dr. Uyi Iluobe

While most Nigerians were celebrating New Year's Eve and getting ready with resolutions for the new year, Dr. Uyi Iluobe went to work in his hospital to save lives, only to have his own life taken from him.

In a report (see below) published by the Nigerian medical association, Dr. Uyi was on duty when a patient was rushed in with a gunshot injury. He attended to the emergency as he should, but unfortunately, the patient died. The patient’s death triggered the relatives and friends who pounced on the doctor sending him to his early grave.

NMA report of Dr Uyi's death
NMA communique on the demise of Dr. Uyi

Some sources reported that he was beaten to death, while others said he was shot by one of the deceased patient's relatives. Whichever it is, the question that begs for an answer is, how have we become such terrible people that we have started killing doctors on duty? How did it get this bad?

Let’s go back for a while…

As an intern, I heard stories about how some patients’ relatives attack medical personnel on duty when they lose their own or feel they are not adequately attended to. There were also rampant cases of pharmacists, nurses, and doctors who were assaulted (both physically and verbally) by patients and their caregivers at any slight delay or provocation.

My friend Charles, who interned at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, steadily recounts how a woman spat on him while he was handing her medicines over to her. According to Charles, the woman was displeased with the waiting time and decided to take it out on him, who was just a poor intern and who, in fact, had no influence on her prolonged waiting time.

Incidences of assault on medical professionals in Nigeria are as common as coming home from work and realizing that there's been no power supply since you left for work and that your food in the fridge is about to go bad. But killing a doctor on duty? That is relatively new and an apparent attack on a profession experiencing its heaviest brain drain.

This is a matter of emergency, and we must never allow this to happen again, just as the culprits must be brought to book.

What must be done?

Firstly, the Nigerian medical association and its allied members must use everything in them to make sure that justice is served. Danger looms large if this anomaly is not nipped in the bud. For a body renowned for going on strike at any slight misunderstanding with the government, I think this is the “rightest” time to embark on one and save themselves (and, by extension medical profession) from imminent danger.

Relevant law enforcement agencies must be looped into this case to ensure that justice is served and that other criminals are deterred. As this is going on, the whole world needs to follow the justice process, as it is only then that people can believe that there are indeed consequences for actions. This is one assault gone too far, which we must never allow in the medical space.

Other medical professionals (pharmacists, nurses, lab scientists, etc.) must all join hands under one umbrella to kick against any form of assault in the hospital. If we all don’t come together to fight against it, then we should all be ready to hear sometime in the future that a nurse was shot dead by a patient’s relatives for not sitting by the patient’s bedside or that a pharmacist was beaten to death for delaying in giving prescriptions by 5 minutes.

Hospitals must learn to start addressing cases of assault (both verbal and physical) on their staff. Addressing issues like this will create a workplace consciousness for the healthcare team and their clients. It will mark a boundary that either party must not cross. Cases of misconduct by the staff should be dealt with decisively, just as an assault on the team (by patients and their relatives) must be attended to adequately. The customer is always right, but not at the expense of the sanity and well-being of your staff.

Medical professionals should start being more vocal about the various forms of assault meted on them daily by their patients and patients’ relatives. Like my friend Charles (in the story above), who only reported his assault and didn’t follow it up, many other cases get swept under the carpet just as soon as they happen. We must all stand together to kick against these recurrent cases of abuse across hospitals and clinics in Nigeria.


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