Welcome to the New Year and the fun of managing the Nigerian patient.
First and second
The year started with the admission of two interesting patients who were operated upon. The first was a 50-year old with severe back pains and difficulty walking. He had previously travelled to Germany and had lumbar spine surgery. 3 years down the line, he required another operation.
This time however, he decided to look for a solution in Nigeria. I love this and always try to help such clients. It helps to be able to proffer effective solutions locally, since this increases our profile and reduces medical tourism. The operation was performed successfully and a far cheaper price than would have cost in Germany.
We also operated on another client with a bad back. These were the first and second cases in the New Year and the operations were performed without a hitch. Both clients went home in good condition and are fresh advocates of the value of care in Nigeria.
The force was certainly with us, though that was as good as it got!
A hot slap
The year continued with a client suffering visual loss due to a large brain tumour. An operation was required, and we quoted a fair price. However, this was apparently too much for the client.
Ordinarily, I would have helped because of the challenges posed by the actual tumour and the type of operation required. I love such challenges, and this would have been great fun! But, no compromise, not in this case. Not after the client said he would have preferred to travel to India for the operation but could not find a suitable companion. He could not find someone trustworthy to accompany him to India.
I thought it was audacious for the client to be so bold and brutally honest.
The point is this. If the client can afford to go to India for the operation and pay whatever the charge, why refuse to pay a fair price for same or better outcome in Nigeria. I don’t think it is fair to say you don’t trust Nigeria and would prefer to travel abroad. Yet, since you deigned to have the operation in Nigeria, prefer it done as cheaply as possible.
Furthermore, expect the same or better outcome!
Why would you want the same outcome (as a minimum) but at a cheaper price? How can you expect us to provide good quality care on a shoe-string? The client would also feel bad and wish he had gone to India in case of a complication. Yet, he will not pay for complication avoidance!
One reason why operation is expensive is in the deployment of human and material resources to ensure the success of the operation. We need to be able to cover all bases and not cut corners, if we want to achieve a good outcome. This is an increasingly recurring decimal where clients want the best but will not pay for it.
It is truly worthy of debate.
Personally, I considered it a slap in the face and would not compromise on the cost or cut corners to get the case. However, it was difficult to see someone who desperately needs an operation, that would be of immense benefit, walk out the door. I only hoped they end up with a good neurosurgeon who understands what is required. I pray they will not end up with someone desperate to make a fast buck, without caring about the outcome.
Let’s get real
We have had clients in Abuja looking for cheap operations end up with surgeons looking for a fast buck. Recently, there has been a rash of complications following plastic surgery in Abuja. Many patients going to have liposuction or indeed fat transfers to have a bigger butt have ended up with massive infections and even a stroke in one case.
Cheap surgery is not synonymous with good or safe surgery. The other thing with cheap, unsafe operations is that it further erodes the confidence in local practice. Overall, it gives dogs a bad name. It is very difficult to lose a bad reputation, even if it is unjustified. The bad news travel far and wide and it forces more Nigerians to consider medical tourism.
Anyway, the disappointment dissipated very fast, as we got to grips with clients who appreciate the worth of providing local solutions right here in the heart of the nation. Clients who are prepared to pay a fair price for solutions here in Nigeria. Many know full well that the cost of surgery in Nigeria is a fraction of what it costs going abroad.
What we need to do is continue to provide a safe environment for the Nigerian patient. However, please don’t go to hospitals expecting the best care in the world for nothing!
It’s a slap in the face!