Health

How much should you trust doctors and nurses?

african mother and her son in doctor’s office

After her fibroid surgery at a prestigious Lagos hospital, she complained to her husband that the incision made by the doctors may not have been properly stitched. The husband dismissed her worries. But she kept repeating the complaint until the husband mentioned it to the doctors that did the surgery. They laughed it off but promised to be around on the day the stitches will be removed.

When that day came, none of the doctors who performed the operation was on duty. And the nurse scheduled to take off the stitches couldn’t understand why a doctor was needed to oversee something as routine as removing surgery stitches. After a lot of complain from the nurse, she was given the go ahead to remove the stitches.

All went well until the patient stepped down from the bed where the stitiches were taken off and then as they say, all hell broke loose.

The stomach tore wide open along the line of the surgery incision and all parts of her intestines dislodged. There was commotion.

It took at least 15 minutes before she could be evacuated from the room where the incident took place to the theater upstairs.

Since no surgery was scheduled for that day at the hospital, the anesthesiologist was said to be at the Apapa branch of the same hospital.

The patient remained unattended to for four hours before an anesthesiologist was called in from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to put the patient to sleep so that the open stomach can be sewed back.
Thankfully, she survived the ordeal.(A true story)

Doctors’ mistakes are quite common but mostly unreported in Nigeria. Sometimes, both patients and their relations are even unaware of cases of medical malpractice because of lack of attention or lack of knowledge of how things are supposed to be.

However, doctors mistakes are not peculiar to Nigeria. They are very common also in advanced countries. In one case in Russia, a woman who went into surgery for a routine operation was injected with a fliud used for embalming dead bodies instead of an anesthesia. She died instantly.

The UK Telegraph reported that in a six months period this year, over 150 cases of medical malpractice were documented.

“the major blunders include 37 cases of patients who underwent surgery on the wrong part of the body.
In one case, the wrong patient was given a heart procedure.
One woman had the wrong fallopian tube removed during an ectopic pregnancy, probably rendering her infertile, and another had a fallopian tube removed instead of her appendix.
The wrong patient was given an invasive colonoscopy to check their bowel, while in four cases operations were carried out on the wrong teeth, and in other cases injections were given to the wrong eye.”

In view of these examples, how much should you trust your doctor. Doctors are humans and they make mistakes just like everybody else. But because of their intense and long training, we are tempted to consider them as infallible.
Once they prescribed drugs or offer an opinion we accept without asking questions. This has led to avoidable tragedies.

In Nigeria, doctors are under immense pressure especially those who work in public hospitals. They attend to so many people on any given day so much so that they focus more on getting the line moving than paying particular attention to listening to each person’s medical situation.

Some may not be knowledgeable enough on the particularity of a health challenge but would go ahead to prescribe drugs based on their hunch and the need to get to the next patient rather than seeking for advice from more knowledgeable colleagues.

Nurses also make terrible mistakes either due to work pressure or negligence. There are cases where people have successful surgeries but end of dying of infections or staying unduly long in hospitals due to lack of proper care by nurses. This applies equally to both private and public hospitals. But more so with public hospitals.

Therefore, both patients and their relations must pay close attention to the quality of care given at any hospital. If a patient in a hospital ward needs to be seen by a doctor, insist that happens.

Whenever nurses and doctors are attending to a patient related to you, look over their shoulders to see exactly what they are doing. If nurses are not coming to administer drugs or dress wounds as and when due, register your complain and insist that they do what is expected of them.

Do not ever think that doctors and nurses will always do the right thing. Learn to look up drugs that are prescribed to see what they are meant for and their side effects. Check to see that nurses are giving the prescribed doses. And pay attention to how you loved ones feel while under medical care at any hospital no matter how highly rated.

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