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We Don’t Deserve To Die
Published Jun 28, 2022 IN Column, HEALTHY LIVING,
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Doctors Cry Out over Patients Assault, Molestation




VARIOUS professions at different levels are characterized by what professionals call occupational hazards. An electrician for instance is sure to be faced with the fear or possibility of being electrocuted. A commercial motorist daily faces the challenge of trying to avoid accidents, which sometimes fail to be averted.

Before now, the major occupational hazard faced by doctors ranged from infections to gadget related accidents. But in recent times, attention has been raised on how health workers are being physically assaulted by patients and their relatives, a trend that has become rather worrisome.

In less than two months interval, two medical officers from Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba were assaulted by the relatives of a patient. One, a female nurse, lost a tooth to the incident while the second, a male doctor had his head broken and had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment.

It was in a bid to express their gross displeasure against this negative trend that members of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), FMC Asaba, took the initiative to embark on a peaceful protest. With their placards bearing various inscriptions, they went round the wards within their premises, creating awareness on the issue and bringing to fore, their collectively agreed call for action.

The crux of their message centred around the fact that doctors needed to be alive to attend to patients.

Speaking with THE POINTER at the protest ground, the General Secretary of ARD, Dr. Kenneth Okolie, speaking on behalf of the President, Dr. Asore Oghenevwarhe said, “It is very sad that we wake up, prepare from our homes and come to the hospital with the sole aim of helping patients and at the end of the day, they turn around to hurt us.

“The last time here in FMC, it was a nurse who got beaten up by the relatives of a patient. She lost a tooth in the process, bled profusely and sustained injury in her nasal cavity. And just last Saturday here, a doctor was hit by a patient’s relative to the point that his head was broken and he had to be hospitalized.

“This trend has now become an epidemic because doctors no longer feel safe in the working environment. Since the last incident on Saturday, we have not worked until this Monday after the protest”. The doctors explained that the incidents were capable of making them embark on strike actions but that they still decided to go on with their duties, while still letting the world know of their grievances.

Dr Okolie, in his address, admitted that patients have their bill of rights and are capable of feeling offended but emphasized that physical abuse or violence is never an option.

“If patients or their relatives are dissatisfied with the services of health workers, there are various right ways to seek redress and not resorting to beating up doctors or any health worker.

“As health workers, we render our services based on the resources and equipment that have been made available. It is no way the fault of doctors that they are making do with what is available and at their disposal”, he remarked.

The heath workers, going round the hospital premises, held up their different placards with various inscriptions including, ‘Saving lives is not a crime’, ‘Doctors lives matter’, ‘No doctor is happy to see his patients dying, why are you against us’?, ‘Na doctor wry dey alive dey save lives’, etc.

They lamented that the nation’s medical workforce is already grossly overburdened, as many professionals keep leaving the country at every slight opportunity, adding that if the molestations and assaults continue, the health workers would have no choice than to relocate to safer climes.

Speaking on the way forward, especially as Nigerians have often complained about negative work attitude of some of the health workers while discharging their duties, one of the resident doctors who pleaded anonymity said, “Heath workers perceived non challance is a system problem.

“First of all, we are grossly short staffed and there is an overwhelming number of patients waiting to be attended to by very few doctors who are humans and not magicians. In spite of the disadvantage, doctors are still trying their best to see that patients receive the care they need, to the best of their ability.

“Because of our commitment to see patients recover, while making up for the staff shortage, we adopt the triage method of treatment which involves giving primary attention to the most critical patients. Patients come in with different levels of ailments and as doctors, it is in our place to decipher which case is more critical or life threatening.

“While we are busy attending to these critical cases, other patients often feel neglected and may go off to term the doctors as non challant.

“Another area patients seem to misunderstand us too is when they interprete our investigative period as time wasting. In medical practice, there is what is called turn around time and this simply means that if there is a surgery to be done for instance, specific tests need to be run and the results of these tests must be ready before further actions can be taken.

“Often time, patients see these processes as doctors deliberately trying to delay their healing process. What they do not understand is that doctors have been trained to handle emergency cases and we have reasons for taking any action we choose to take.

“If patients have any complaints or there are lapses, they should report to the authorities, SERVICOM is also there to lodge their complaints.

But whatever the lapses are, no patient has the right to assault a doctor, for whatever reason. If the tables are turned, how would patients and their relatives feel if doctors molest or beat them up? They definitely will not take it lightly.

“In the same vein, patients should desist from making doctors feel unsafe in their working environment, if all the doctors are killed, who would treat the sick patients? he asked.

While at the Accident and Emergency ward, the team emphasized to patients that doctors were by no means magicians.

“You don’t come into the hospital and expect that the drugs you are given will immediately take the sickness away. Our medications take time to work. We have processes we follow before we administer treatments and it is not in the place of patients to tell us what to do.

“If you could take care of your sick relative all by yourself, you wouldn’t have bothered coming to the hospital. Since you have come to the hospital, respect the doctors and stick to instructions given”.

Emphasis was also laid on the need for visitors to stick to the visiting hours as stipulated by the hospital management to avoid clashes. In all, the doctors’ appeal was for patients and their relatives to help them stay alive so they can in turn be available to help them when they’re down.

Meanwhile, last Saturday’s case has been reported to the police and the case has been charged to court. The doctors warned that stringent actions would be meted on anyone who chooses to assault or beat up health workers.

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