Health Delivery And Patient Safety

By Ikenga Chronicles July 20, 2018

–Paschal Nwosu Esq

There is a growing Alarm over the rate of preventable Deaths that occurs in our Hospitals in the South East, and in particular Imo State. There are many reasons for these developments. But the Chief Cause of it all is the negligence of the Hospital Authorities, low quality standards of care, poor staffing and lack of modernization.

What we call hospitals with few exceptions in the State are nothing more than funeral parlors. It is disheartening sometimes when you go to some of these hospitals{private or public} and you find the prospective victims, or patients praying tearfully over an emergency case or a dying patient whilst the nurses scamper away. The patients’ families watch helplessly whilst their dear ones die slowly and sometimes painfully before their very eyes because of absence of drugs, requisite staff, Competent Doctors, and or legal impediments.

Prayer has become a substitute for medicine and surgery all over the South East Hospitals. In an atmosphere that is supposed to be hushed, you find ecclesiastical excitement, with fervent head nodding and screams of “Holy Ghost Fire!”

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A clear understanding of these scenes will reveal that in most of our Hospitals there are no equipments and provisions to meet with Emergency cases. The Drugs are not there when there is the requisite Expertise. Sometimes, the drugs administered are generic and counterfeit. They are patently substandard and less active as required by the prescriptive dose required.

In a particular case of non availability of Health facilities and equipments , a couple without male issues was blessed with male twins at a Government hospital but watched their twins born before time and underweight die before their own eyes because of the absence of incubators in the entire Imo state. By the time, they were told to move them to Enugu, they were dead.

In another case,of legal impediment, a Gun shot victim came for treatment bleeding profusely from Gunshot wound inflicted by a policeman accidentally whilst after an okada rider for N20 at Onitsha. The Hospital Authorities refused to treat her in the absence of a police report, and she bled to death.

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It is not every time that people die in these so called Hospitals. Sometimes they live. In one of the so called private hospitals staffed by a single Doctor and a school of Auxiliary Nurses, a patient also called a victim had a simple surgery to enable him pass urine in an Orlu Hospital. He was charged N300, 000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand Naira). In that same Hospital where a man died, the Doctor refused the removal of the corpse until he was paid N250, 000.00 (Two Hundred And Fifty Thousand Naira) or there about which according to him was used for buying drugs.

In both cases, there are glaring ignorance and exploitation of these people most of whom hold life invaluable and are prepared to pay any price to continue to live. Life is abundant in the south Eastern Nigeria but death is also speedy.

In the South East, People in the rural Area, sell lands and become greatly indebted to Hospitals for simple surgeries, most times unnecessary. Even in matters, where drugs are administered of known value, these Doctors charge exorbitant and wicked fees. There is a mute outcry and unacceptable level of deregulation.

There is no clear standardization of charges, amenities, and services in the absence of any enforced guidelines for establishing a Hospital and charging regulations.

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To own a Hospital what you need is a flat or rooms with or without sanitary conveniences. The Hospitals cannot pass for a health centre but they are called Hospitals and often named after Christian Saints to disarm potential victims. Basic equipments for scan, x-rays, chemotherapy, laboratory diagnosis, appropriate beddings, and even paper work are completely absent or negligibly present. They are mere consulting rooms for grow rich quick private medical practitioners with no other experience than a year’s houseman ship and years of punctuated clinicals, closures and accreditation problems.

Thus in view of these developments, the health sector needs the urgent sanitation. The state government should as a matter of urgency set up a task force to review and re license all private hospitals in these States. There is the need for standardization of Hospitals before licensing which must be subject to periodic annual reviews .The states must ensure that they are basically equipped for patient safety. The charges must be humane and there is the need for a body to be created and accessible for the public for public complaints. Call it, State Hospital {Standards, regulations and patient protection} commission. Whatever we call it, it must help to reinstate public trust in our Hospitals and ensure the standardization of health care delivery. Deaths in private and public hospitals must be reported,documented and verified that it was not caused by negligence.

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The current steps taken by the Imo State government to commercialize Health Delivery in the State is appropriate if it will lead to the re investments of the proceeds on facility maintenance,equipment procurements and appropriate staffing and training programs within and outside the Country.The government should also look into the cases of abuses by referrals to private hospitals owned by government employed doctors.More so, the availability and use of substandard drugs for patient treatment by our hospitals is a great cause for anxiety and perhaps there is the need to appoint a pharmacist General for the State to superintend our drug policy.Why not, if we can have an Attorney General in the same State?.

The government should raise a Task force against fake and Sub Standard Drugs and the public retailing of drugs in Vans, and open spaces without regard to preservation and fitness for consumption.

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It is also important that the Government should regulate the sale of commercial herbal preparations by herbalists in the State with unrestricted advertisements which claims cure for all forms of ailments.These concoctions with unverified toxicity have caused much liver and kidney damages for people because of inappropriate information on dosage and usage.

Our Hospitals should no longer be places of spiritual healing but care. We should have faith not just in God. But in our Doctors.

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