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07.03.2024 Featured Shortage of Manpower, Inadequate Security… Why Patients’ Relatives Keep Attacking Doctors in Hospitals

Published 7th Mar, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

A resident doctor at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo State, was attending to a medical emergency when relatives of a deceased patient pounced and inflicted injuries on him last Sunday.

FIJ learned that the assailants, who have been arrested and arraigned, are friends of the parents of the patient, who died at the hospital the previous day.

They were waiting for a death certificate to be written when the resident doctor got a call from the emergency department about a sickle cell patient. The assailants approached the doctor in the consulting room and beat him up.

READ ALSO: Thugs Attack EKSUTH’s Emergency Unit, Remove a Corpse

Following the attack, members of the UCH Ibadan chapter of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) began a 72-hour strike on Wednesday to demand an apology from the assailants and to sensitise the public against attacks on health workers.

Dr. John Oladapo, the president of the UCH Ibadan chapter of the ARD, told FIJ that the assailants were charged with disturbance of public peace and assault.

“Two of them were charged in court, and they were granted bail because assault is a bailable offence. They were granted bail in the sum of N200,000 each and a similar sum for their sureties. But they have not been able to meet the conditions of the bail. They are currently remanded in the Agodi Correctional Centre,” he told FIJ.

He also told FIJ that the assaulted doctor, who was currently receiving care, had been given some time off by the hospital to recuperate.

“He will most likely have some scheduled psychological evaluation because of the sheer horror – the fact that it was even beside a patient, and even the mother of the patient he was attending to was also assaulted. That was how vicious the attack was,” Dr. Oladapo added.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

This is not the first time families of patients have attacked doctors at the UCH and in some other hospitals in the country.

In August 2023, a relative of a patient slapped a female doctor at the radiology department of the UCH. Also, in 2022, Dr. Uyi Iluobe was killed by relatives of his patient at a hospital in Oghara, Delta State.

READ ALSO: Patients Assault Nurses at FMC Imo as Doctors Obey Sit-At-Home Order

WHY SUCH ATTACKS KEEP HAPPENING

While speaking with FIJ, the ARD president at the UCH, Ibadan, hinted that these attacks will likely continue unless the underlying issue of manpower shortage is effectively addressed.

“We are at a critical point where there is a chronic manpower shortage, and it is severe because in the department of haematology, where this happened, we used to have between 10 and 12 doctors, but currently, we have four doctors, and one of the doctors has just resigned. That is how bad it is. That is why the doctor has to work in the ward, be in the emergency and be on several points of call.”

Dr. Oladapo also stressed the need for arm-bearing security operatives to eliminate the recurring violence against health workers.

According to the doctor, the recent attack could have been much more severe if the security operatives had not stepped in. He noted that the security, however, had to employ physical strength in restraining the attackers.

“There are security operatives, but the peculiarity is that they are not arm-carrying security operatives. They have to also use their physical strength. In this case, there were four of them [the assailants]. The security operatives were the ones who helped stem the tide of the attack, because it could have been worse. They were able to come in, but the fact that they were not bearing arms is why it is part of our demands that the security architecture of the hospital be enhanced,” he added.

READ ALSO: Begging, Suicide Thoughts… How Doctors at OAU Teaching Hospital Manage to Work Without Pay

The doctor also said having closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) installed in hospitals would help provide evidence of attacks. He said this while telling FIJ that the assailants were able to plead not guilty in court because there was no footage of the attack.

“There are no CCTVs in the emergency room. There are specific flashpoints like the emergency room, the children’s emergency room and the labour ward complex where there should be CCTV. The CCTVs should have video and audio components, too, because the assailants pleaded not guilty in court. It has to be our word against their word and the words of our witnesses against the words of their witnesses. We don’t have evidence that is cast in stone,” he revealed.

He further stated: “This is why we need to sensitise people that assault is not the way to go. There are several channels of complaint if they are dissatisfied with the care they are receiving. The management has, at least, tried for the first time in charging the persons to court and in effecting arrest. They have also provided the initial first aid care and given him some time off work. Of course, we want them to do more. There should be arm-bearing security guards and CCTVs. They should also employ more doctors because if they don’t take care of the remote cause, it will continue to occur.”

Abimbola Abatta is a reporter with FIJ writing reports in partnership with Report for the World which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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Published 7th Mar, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

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