Members of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical Centre, FMC Asaba Chapter, today, trooped out in their number to protest an assault meted out on one of their members (name withheld) by family members of a patient.
The doctors were led on the protest by their President and executive members as they carried placards moving from department to department and ward to ward on a peaceful procession round the hospital premises.
According to the ARD President, Dr Asore Oghenevware Emmanuel, the Resident Doctors were not happy over the way and manner patients had continued to assault them. He stated that a doctor on duty at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) unit was brutally assaulted and almost killed by a patient’s family members.
He hinted that three of the assailants were arrested and remanded since Saturday and were awaiting trial at the court.
Speaking further, Dr Asore said,
“The doctors earlier withheld their services to express their anger over the unfair treatment their member received from family members of the patient that he was caring for.
“This is a peaceful protest to alert the hospital community and the general public of what the doctors are going through in FMC Asaba. We will resume our duties after the protest, however; we are assuring the management, patients, government and the public that we will not hesitate to down tools if such inhuman treatments on doctors continued to happen.”
“While we want to thank God that our colleague who was treated at the police hospital is presently fine and recuperating, we call on the government and good spirited individuals to help safeguard us and ensure our security during and after every day’s duty. Our colleague was hit on the head and he bled profusely, but thank God he was resuscitated and he is alive today.”
“It is obvious that there are operational challenges in our hospitals, but that should not be a blame for us doctors to bear. It is a systemic problem and should be directed appropriately. Meanwhile, patients who have issues should seek redress and express their dissatisfaction through the management or any other appropriate quarters.”
Giving an account of what happened, the ARD Secretary, Dr Okolie Kenneth said, the victim who was on call on that fateful day, had at least three patients with seizure disorders at the same time and the families of the patients needed his attention at the same time.
The Secretary however, said the doctor being a professional, decided to attend to the most critical emergency. However, he still assessed the said patient and instituted treatment but would further evaluate him after he was transferred to the examination couch. The family of the patient who wanted the doctor to abandon other patients picked up quarrel with him.
Okolie said the dispute was immediately settled, but unknown to the doctor, the children of the man had already reached out to their accomplices outside the ward with regards to the quarrel. When the doctor was done with his assignment, he was attacked from the back and hit on his head with an unknown object, causing him to lose blood.
The Secretary averred that it is usually an issue when there are triads because of the limited manpower, but the patients should know that the doctors love them and want to see them well.
“We love our patients and that is why we go the extra miles to do our work. There are limitations everywhere, but it’s not enough for patients to continue to attack us. Doctors and health workers are basically in distress; not enough hands to work with for less stress, not well remunerated and now, assault from patients is like adding salt to injury”.
The ARD Vice President, Dr Uwadia Omozele expressed her anger over the incident. She maintained that her grievance was anchored on the fact that if a male doctor who is usually calm could be attacked, what then happens to a female doctor who sometimes react angrily when stressed.
“In actual fact, a patient who is treated wrongly by a doctor or a health worker can channel his or her complaint to the consultant supervising the doctor, the management or even pass through the SERVICOM unit. These are laid down procedures of lodging complaints in case of ill-treatment by medical personnel, other than taking laws into one’s hands.”
In a nutshell, the ARD Public Relations Officer, Dr Queensly Ebireri Adigwe affirmed that doctors are bound by the hypocritical oath which ensures that patients under them are carefully and optimally taken care of.
She said, to ensure that this law is kept, doctors could do everything possible to ensure the adequate well-being of their patients, including keeping the oath of confidentiality with their patients.
However, the PRO explained that there could be limitations as a result of shortage in manpower, adding that it was still not enough reason for patients to unfairly channel their misunderstanding to any doctor, undermining the fact that they work several hours a day to save a life.
In her words, “We are humans too, we have blood flowing in us and we have families that we also retire to at the end of everyday’s assignment. We are here to serve and not to be receiving every blame for a failing system. We are doing our best but it should not be at our detriment.”
“Our challenge majorly is lack of enough personnel to do the job. It happens that most times doctors are stressed out in an attempt to satisfy more of their patients. We are pleading with our patients to see us as friends and those God is using to save their lives.”
“We need more hands. A lot is happening here, our colleagues are leaving the country to seek better working environment and motivation, but we are not doing that. We want to stay back here and serve our people and nation; but our security, safety and welfare must be guaranteed. We don’t even have any Life Assurance Policy, even though we had continued to push for it. When a medical personnel dies in the line of duty, it will take a miracle for his or her family to get as much as N100,000. We work in a hazardous environment where our Hazard Allowance is just N5000; whereas discussions had been ongoing to raise it but to no avail. The injuries we receive on this job are much and the Hazard Allowances are not commensurate to the amount of hazards we encounter on the job”, the ARD Spokesperson narrated.
In a telephone conversation with the Police Public Relations Officer in Delta State, DSP Edafe Bright, he confirmed the case but said he had not been properly briefed of the case by the IPO, so as to know the direction of prosecution.