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Medical criminal negligence and professional misconduct, in Nigeria

#FeaturebyMrEzi -Ashi : The doctor only sent the patient for an x-ray in Surulere after he had applied the cast.

Medical criminal negligence and professional misconduct, in Nigeria

He was rushed to Excel C Medical Centre in Ikoyi where Dr. Ejike Orji, the Medical Director, sedated him got a police orderly and a basketball coach who accompanied him to pull the limb in opposite directions and applied fiberglass on the leg from the thigh to the toe. He did not bother to get his mother's consent neither did he do an x-ray. The doctor only sent the patient for an x-ray in Surulere after he had applied the cast.

As the effect of the sedative wore off, the patient started to complain of pain and tightness in the leg and could not sleep during the night due to the pain. The patient’s mother requested that the cast be removed but Dr. Orji only cut open a square hole in the back of the knee and asked them to go home and he told her that the pain would stop within 2 days. Subsequently, the father of the victim contacted two orthopedic surgeons to ask what to do. It turned out that Somtochukwu had developed compartment syndrome which was the result of occlusion of blood supply to the limb. Compartment syndrome sets in at 4 to 6 hours and becomes irreversible after 24 hrs. The time elapsed before the cast was removed was 72hours.

Six surgical interventions were carried out at a Reddington Hospital Lagos before he was flown out to the USA for several other operations. The limb was saved but he developed Foot Drop.

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Aside from the criminal complaint to the Police, the patient's mother also lodged a complaint to the Medical and Dental Practitioners' Investigation Panel in March 2019 against Dr. Orji, alleging that the management of her son's condition was negligent.

The Panel determined that there was evidence of misconduct in a professional respect against Dr. Ejike Orji referred him to the Medical and Dental Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal. The Tribunal proffered five counts against Dr. Ejike Orji. He was to be arraigned and tried before the Tribunal in 2021 however, three attempts were stalled by his absence on a claim of ill health.

While the professional case stalled at the Disciplinary Tribunal, the DPP Lagos State continued with the prosecution of the criminal charge at the Lagos State High Court. He was rearraingned in February 2022 on one count of causing grievous bodily harm, two counts of endangering human life through reckless and negligent acts and three counts of breach of duty of person doing dangerous acts and endangering human life through reckless and dangerous acts.

On 20th January 2023 the Court entered a verdict and convicted Dr. Ferdinand Ejike Orji on four of the six counts. He was sentence to one year in prison on each of the four counts.

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