By Francis Ekpone & Gabriel Chy Alonta
A professor of surgery and surgical Oncology, Clement Odigie Osime has urged medical doctors to carry out their professional responsibilities in accordance with high ethical standards and international best practices.
Osime gave the advice in Nnokwa, Idemili South local government area of Anambra state, during the Annual General Meeting of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) chapter.
He regretted that some medical personnel had lost their jobs, while others’ career were ruined following their inability to recognise and accord patients their rights.
In his lecture titled, “Patients’ Bill of Rights: The implication for the practicing physician”, Osime noted that gone were the days when patients tolerate the excesses of the doctors and nurses, noting that they were better knowledgeable about their rights.
According to him, “The implication of the Patients’ Bill of Right for the practicing physician is that the physician must as a matter of necessity practice the profession of Medicine according to best practices. What some patients would ordinarily accept a few years ago and probably say is the will of God can be subjected to litigation today. If we practice our profession diligently, we are not likely to infringe on patients’ rights. Once we protect those rights, the patient will invariably be satisfied and there may not be litigations.
“Litigations must be avoided at all cost as a single act of indiscretion by the physician may ruin an entire medical career”.
He however faulted the Patients’ Bill of Right documents, which he said, was silent on the rights of the healthcare providers and called for its amendment.
Osime, who is also a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, enjoined medical personnel to exhibit ethical conducts of the profession as well as give patients the respect they deserve.
He said that patients had the right to be informed and chided medical personnel to shun false imprisonment of patients, a development, he described as illegal, noting that a patient could sue them for such.
“Patients have rights of confidentiality, access to information, patient-related information, free-related information, quality of care, dignity, access to emergency care without payment, complaints, patient’s refusal of care”, the expert added.
Speaking on the sub-theme, “Improving the quality of healthcare delivery in Nigeria: A business management perspective”, Dr. Obinna Muogboh, from Lagos Business School, decried poor budgetary allocation to health, remarking that no nation can thrive when the health and education sectors were neglected.
Muogboh listed lack of proper medical supplies, poor motivation of medical staff, inappropriate diagnostic equipment, insufficient funds, shortage of medical workers and poor management as challenges of health sector in Nigeria.
The guest speaker said that proper management of available resources, people, processes and procedures would help to improve the status of healthcare practices in Nigeria, while charging health workers to ensure they manage little available resources optimally.
He called for public-private partnership in the health sector, emphasising that without such partnership, the health sector would continue to deteriorate. “People are losing confidence in the healthcare system, we need to get the system working again. Be efficient and effective to get good result, give your patients personal touch.
“Digitalise your documentation system for future decision making. Treat patients like your customers because without them, you will have no one to attend to. Don’t treat them as if you are helping them. Proper management is critical to healthcare delivery”, he added.
In a remark, the chairman of MDCAN, NAUTH, Dr. Eric Ihekwoaba, said the association had solved wrong placement of members, delayed promotion with their accompanying under-payment or delayed payment, through NAUTH management. He called for partnership with the Anambra state government in ensuring that MDCAN, NAUTH assists the state in extending her qualitative health care services to many people especially in the rural areas and other difficult terrains.
Earlier, the chairman of organising committee, Dr. Okechukwu Ekwunife, disclosed that the AGM included routine medical check of medical practitioners aimed at keeping them in top form to deliver more efficient services.
Ekwunife said the theme of the AGM was specially designed to educate and equip the practitioners against the contemporary challenges facing health care in the country.