More often we hear of stories of doctors being beaten to a pulp, or even coma, by grieving relatives of dead patients, why? Because they had blamed the doctor for not doing enough to prevent the patient’s death.
But only on very rare occasions have doctors or nurses been dressed with medal honour for saving many lives, okay, I think I understand why, it’s a doctor’s mandatory duty to save lives! He must not do less. Hmm…
Some weeks back, I was summoned by the organisation I work for concerning the death of a patient I had managed. The concluding verdict was professionally necessary, and may be not totally unfair, but has there been any time a doctor was celebrated for at least one of the scores of lives he saves monthly?
In today’s episode of Doctor Patient Palaver, I will be sharing the unfortunate story of Felix, a medical officer in a private hospital in Nigeria.
It’s 1.00am. when a teenage girl was rushed to the hospital where Dr Felix was taking night shift. To keep his family, Dr Felix had to work both day and night shifts in two different hospitals. The young girl had suffered from asthma attack and her respiration was already compromised when she was taken into the emergency room. The nurses were said to immediately call out for Dr Felix who was sleeping in the doctor’s call room. Although it took some minutes before the fatigued doctor was able to navigate his way out of sleep island, it was rather too late. All the available medications he had administered that morning couldn’t save the girl a meaningful breath. With so much regret, he kept shouting ‘no nebulizer, no oxygen!’
In the usual mourning mood, the relatives took the corpse away, mumbling the doctor’s name in grief and anger. Every other thing went back to normal as Dr Felix and other staff of the small hospital went back to sleep.
Later in the afternoon, the medical director of the hospital received a call from a tertiary hospital that one of his staff was lying in critical condition at their intensive care unit—Dr Felix was in coma. He was followed by some hoodlums as he was leaving work very early that morning, beaten and dumped on the roadside. While he was assaulted, they told him he was paying for killing their sister.
To me, I think Dr Felix was just an unfortunate scape goat! Perhaps he could have saved the poor girl if he had woken up two or three minutes earlier, perhaps the girl could still have died anyways. It was possible the girl had gone into attack long before she was brought to hospital, it was also possible that she was administered some herbal regimen that probably aggravated the condition at home. In all, a poor doctor was held responsible either by law or by crook. Looking at this scenario, do you think Dr Felix had a part in the patient’s death thus deserving what he got?
In the next episode, I would be sharing some nurses’ view on taking patients back after they might have left the hospital against medical advice; what may be the danger of re-admitting a patient that had previously discharged him/herself against medical advice.