Tuesday, August 9, 2022
HomeReps want deaths, disability caused by medical negligence prosecuted

Reps want deaths, disability caused by medical negligence prosecuted

The House of Representatives has decried deaths and disabilities caused by the negligence of doctors, nurses, and other workers in the health sector, calling for the prosecution of such cases.

Particularly, the House urged the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and other disciplinary bodies “saddled with the responsibility of carrying out preliminary investigations of any allegation of infamous conduct against a medical practitioner to forward the case to the Tribunal for trial in line with the provision of Section 16(2) of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act.”

At the plenary on Tuesday, a member of the House, Jude Ngaji, had moved a motion titled ‘Need to Investigate the Causes of Deaths and Permanent Disability Resulting from Negligence of Medical Practitioners in Nigeria,’ which the lawmakers unanimously adopted.

Ngaji noted that the increase in the reports of medical negligence in Nigeria is “principally attributed to lack of sufficient medical practitioners and infrastructure in the health sector.”

The lawmaker said despite the increasing number of victims, there has been a low level of formal complaints and lawsuits for compensation due to ignorance, poverty, and in some cases, reluctance to seek redress against the offending medical practitioner.

He noted that in other countries where quality medical practice and care for patients is higher, there is a sense of accountability required from medical practitioners, and as such, it will be useful to consider the legal position in Nigeria concerning actions for negligence.

Ngaji said, “In circumstances where the Medical Practitioner fails to perform his duty as required, the issue of liability would arise, thus the victims of medical negligence can make complaints under criminal law, institute actions for a civil wrong or follow the complaint procedure provided by the Act.

“A victim can seek redress for medical negligence under criminal law in the gravest of circumstances where negligence resulted in permanent disability or death of the patient, the practitioner will be guilty of gross negligence which can lead to a crime against the State or liable for manslaughter as the case may be.

“The House recognises that the degree of negligence, which gives rise to civil action must be that of ordinary tortuous negligence, this can be proved where all elements of the three tests exist, which are: that the medical practitioner owed a duty of care to the patient; the duty of care was breached; and as a direct consequence of the breach, the patient suffered damages.

“Also, the onus of proof lies on the claimant who must call evidence to show negligence on the part of the medical practitioner.”

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