Dear LIB readers; Letter from another Nigerian doctor | Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Dear LIB readers; Letter from another Nigerian doctor

This is in response to this. Read below...
This write-up is from a Nigerian doctor to your LIB fans who responded to your post about the doctor that “forgot” a pad in a lady. What I think happened is that the woman had a pad placed to absorb the vaginal bleeding after the surgery. The pad was placed in the vagina and left there for two days, at which point the woman left her hospital bed for the doctor’s office to complain about it. Whatever the case, leaving that pad there for 2 days was an oversight on the team’s part whether the patient was informed to remove it or not, and it could have led to infections and other complications. For that, the doctor and nurses were at fault no matter the reason.
But what I want to address is the general hostile attitude of the public towards doctors over reasons such as: doctors are proud and arrogant, they love money, they are incompetent, etc. I can’t address all these points, but I’d love to address the obvious expectation of the Nigerian public that doctors should, in fact, be PERFECT.

Let’s start from the beginning of a doctor’s career: the training. Nigerian doctors are trained in the same Nigerian universities that produce virtually-intact illiterates. I mean graduates that cannot speak or write good English or spell words correctly (like most of those that comment on your blog or on Facebook). Just a few weeks ago, we gave a “corper” a form to fill and where she was to fill her “sex” after her name and age, she wrote “about twice a week” instead of “female.” Wow! And then she proceeded to bombard us with spelling and grammatical errors, yet she was teaching in a primary school. A graduate! Most Nigerian graduates cannot defend what they claim to have spent 4-5 years studying because of the low quality of education they receive. But the Nigerian doctors trained in these same universities are expected to sparkle like their foreign counterparts? Seriously? 

Let’s go to the issue of competence. A lot of doctors do great things every single day. I mean, a lot! But when a few doctors out of the thousands in the country do something wrong, it’s generalized. What about other professionals in Nigeria? Take engineers, for example. How are the roads in our country? I mean the ones that have been repaired about 5 times with billions of naira and still have gaping pot holes? What about the buildings and bridges that collapse all over the country? Or the road drains that don’t lead anywhere and only store stagnant water and garbage? Or the electric poles and street lights that fall on their own? Why does no one scream about the incompetence of our engineers? What about the bankers that steal from clients’ accounts? Every field inevitably has “bad eggs;” you don’t generalize what you experience with one case to every one!

Now, most of the government hospitals your government gives us to work in lack the basic resources needed for proper health care. They either don’t have equipment, or have non-functioning or out-dated ones - like X-ray, CT, and ECG machines built in the 80’s. Laboratory reagents and machines needed to carry out basic tests for diagnosis are usually lacking; of course, advanced tests are only read about in medical textbooks. Some expensive private labs I know send patients’ blood and other samples to S/Africa! We, the doctors, are not responsible for providing these equipment or paraphernalia; the government is. Yet when you come to the hospital and we are essentially handicapped, you’d say “these doctors don’t even know what they are treating or doing.” Even ordinary syringes, IV cannulas, urethral catheters etc are scarce commodities; it’s in Nigeria that syringes are prescribed with drugs for patients. As for the drugs? Even the “out-dated” drugs that were discovered decades ago that we still use (even though our foreign counterparts have abandoned them) are not readily available. Modern drugs can easily be gotten in South Africa or Egypt but not Nigeria. How then would the Nigerian doctor be able to make that same diagnosis that those doctors make? Or even treat you? Or treat the most basic of health issues? My people, don’t just shout. Think!!!

Should I talk about the staff shortage? Do you know that in developed countries it is illegal to work for a particular number of hours on a stretch? Even for company drivers, not to talk of doctors. It is because when you rest after some work, you function better later on. I once worked in a delicate unit in a teaching hospital where I was on call for one month straight! I would work in the morning from 8am – 4pm and then start my call from 4pm to 8am the next day (while most of you were in clubs or with your families). For one full month! Shebi I’m a machine? Or a slave? And I don’t want to see my family because they are masquerades, right? And then one night, while I was on the 5th floor attending to a delicate patient we performed surgery on earlier in the day, they started calling me at Accident/Emergency (ground floor) for an emergency case that just rushed in for my unit. The same me that had to attend to this patient who needed immediate attention? The same me that stood all day in the theatre? The same me that hadn’t had a good night’s rest for almost 2wks? I didn’t have 4 hands, 8 legs or 10 heads, so I had to hurriedly finish with the patient upstairs and fly down there. If you were the one that came to the A/E with a loved one, you would say “the doctor wasn’t even around” or “the doctor was sleeping” and you would start screaming at me when I finally show up. Because you’re in your own world that’s very different from mine. When you see me unavoidably grumpy and irritable after two weeks of such calls, you would say doctors are rude and arrogant. Or when I end up forgetting something or doing something wrong cos of how over-worked I’ve been, you would scream murder! It’s depressing. I didn’t choose to work like that; I was forced to! You want to sue? I’m looking for who to sue too!

I have a lot to say, but let me stop and summarize: the Nigerian system as a whole is riddled with corruption and all its consequences. Nothing works, nothing is as it should be. The health care sector is part of the Nigerian system; you can’t have other sectors like power, agriculture, economy, judiciary, even foreign affairs (remember Morocco?) in a depressing mess and expect the health care sector to be all shiny and rosy simply because life is involved; the same issues affecting the others also affect it. It’s true that there are cases of malpractice now and then (which happen even in developed countries), but the main issue in most cases is the poor health care structure we have to work with. Until we can get our leaders to see such important things as important, you’ll just keep complaining. And until our leaders are constitutionally forced to send their children to Nigerian universities and seek medical care in Nigerian government hospitals (which would make them put things in order), nothing will change.
Thank you.

246 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Not get distracted with all they hv to go thru because they are not Humans shei? Ignorant much

Anonymous said...

Who's this Bonario tho? Sounds like an imbecile

FEYI said...

A good one, the health sector needs HELP more than the people in the North East States

Unknown said...

Dz Doctors dey try...the change in this country doesn't lie at the Presidency it starts from me and you, for the first time Nigerians are taking voting really personal and that's the spirit, we may have different choices but the most important thing is the fact that we belive we can change this country thru our votes. I attended a University in the south where first class is a taboo, it is also a taboo for a student to pass very well. The change is in the way we think and the things we stand up for. To all the Doctors your job is beyond the salary it's a call to serve humanity because no amount of salary can bring back family times you people keep missing out of.

Anonymous said...

A good one, the health sector needs HELP more than the people in the North East States

Anonymous said...

Quack aboki
~D great anonymous!

ebonydoc said...

I love ur honesty!

Anonymous said...

And BTW as everyone don turn doctor sha plus who's interested in these stories that touch???

ebonydoc said...

Ur sister probably killed herself without knowing, even before she decided to seek medical attention!
Prolly she had been going to chemists and herbal/native doctors before she decided to get to a hospital wen she realised she wasn't getting better. And d situation had gotten out of hand!!!
STFU

ebonydoc said...

U are a dunse!
The doctor's choice of using "didnt" in d context is very correct.
You didn't drop d dream of becoming a doctor because doctors suck, u actually did dat because ur poor English alone would have made u fail out of medical school....trust me, u did d right tin abandoning ur dream. thumbs up

Anonymous said...

Dear Doc,
with this article you've opened my eyes in many ways. I understand better. I just hope the politicians will also read but more importantly understand. We need to fix this country real fast. God bless Nigerian doctors, nurses, all those in the medical field who despite the rot in the system they still save lives.

Anonymous said...

You must be one of the "educated illiterates" the poster referred to...

Anonymous said...

I am a Nigerian trained doctor working overseas for over 10yrs. Most of the things you mentioned above are true. However, you have not mentioned some aspects of nigerian doctors that is flawed. How many times have you tried to update your skills? are you really concerned about the patients outcome.They are non challant about the patient’s outcome. He puts his financial reward above the patients outcome. He is protected by the system that does not reprimand people for their adverse actions. how many times has a doctor being sued for the numerous negligent actions we read and hear of daily?
i understand that the lack of resources has led to poor patient outcome but I have not yet read the time when nigerian doctors go on strike solely for the provision of these facilities.they always go on innumerable strikes for pecuniary and petty issue like creation of ‘consultant nurses’ role.
A doctor who truly has the patient in mind would have given the patient an explanation of what had been done to them. she would have been aware of the pad in her vagina and probably have reminded the doctor of the plan regarding it. do you educate your patient on treatment modalities, outcome and alternative treatments? do you know how many patients have had to undergo unnecessary caesarian section because its means more money for the doctor?
it is sad but without sounding like i am not supportive of my nigerian colleagues, i think they ought to look into their practice and engage on how to improve on delivery by firstly improving on themselves. then they would be justified to comment on lack of facilities.

Anonymous said...

U are obviously one of the "educated illiterates"

Anonymous said...

U are a big fool bonario or wateva u are called...mr iTK..mtcheeeew

Unknown said...

Hmmmmmmmm words for taught.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you swore to an oath before you commenced practice????

Anonymous said...

Very nice and sensible comment

Anonymous said...

It is only in nija drs think they must be the team leaders in a healthcare setting. What makes you think drs r superior? Im sorry to say that some drs sef (long hiss). Imagine I shared out questionnaires for a study I'm conducting at the hospital I work and one foolish dr ordered the other health workers not to fill d questionnaire coz of black belle and stupidity. #imapharmacist

Anonymous said...

You are very stupid Feyi

Anonymous said...

Very honest comment. So truthful

Unknown said...

You spoke well my Doctor and the fact is that that Doctor made a mistake

Anonymous said...

Sorry to bust your bubble, however, as I female doc, I have been almost physically abused by patients getting worked up for the mistake of someone else. Not totally justifying her actions, if I feel threatened in a fairly closed space, I will shout back, even if it is to get the attention of others. I have had female colleagues stabbed, raped and all what not. Besides, who is to say that the patient was totally sane at the time. None of us was there to put the scenario together perfectly but pls, seen doctors panics sometimes and a stress response may be the only response. No disrespect.

DeeD25 said...

Unnecessary story? I always knew u were a knuckle head! very immature response from you and Miss Linda Ikeji holds u to high esteem on LIB.. really?

ANONN said...

I feel very offended by your comments Bonario. This Doctor has said exactly the mind of virtually all of us and to see these words from you is very disappointing and annoying to say the least. Grow up mate.

Anonymous said...

Sorry dear...
Hope you are ok...

Anonymous said...

Say d truth. .u no pass jamb

Anonymous said...

Bro na Australia get me now oooo
The earlier u leave the better for you ooo. .
Life sweet no be small

Anonymous said...

U are disgrace to all nurses
You should go n hide ur face in shame

Anonymous said...

Tell her oooo

Anonymous said...

Sorry dear. ..
Hope he comes back to you soon

Anonymous said...

Yeah...Doctors are not being given the best facilities to take care of its patients, the government is to be blamed right?. But that should not be enough reason for whoever to forget a pad in a patient. Doctors are caregivers responsible for the business of saving lives, which in that case requires you to be more conscious and well detailed when taking care of a patient undergoing surgery. All that was expect was an apology not a shabby treatment as there was no communication to the patient as to if and when she needed to remove the pad. I had an experience when my lil' boy was ill, during consultation the female doctor was insensitive and sarcastic with her response and to that I say Nigerian doctor's should be re tutored on customer relations, as it goes a long way to assist them on the job when interacting with patients. We don't know it.

Anonymous said...

Nice 1 doc

anon said...

What part exactly looks like a lie. Fool!

Anonymous said...

Nice 1 doc

anon said...

Black beauty without brains...I'm sure you didn't process what you were writing before typing it... Idiat!

Anonymous said...

Blackbeauty?u should b called blackbrain...how dare u say whether they are stressed or not.. It is obvious u hv gt a low IQ..

Anonymous said...

Nobody asked if you did... smh

ADA-ADA said...

This is quite an expository essay. I understood every point he is trying to make. I have been a victim of incompetence by a dr. Yet it didn't make me generalize. Whatever change is desired would and should start from the government being able to effect changes in the medical system. We as Nigerians need to change our mindset too. #enufsaid
I love doctors. They aren't arrogant really. It depends on how u present yourself.
I pray to marry a doctor someday soon. Amen! I'm proud of them

Anonymous said...

God bless you for this sane and sincere comment

Subomi said...

well this Doctor sounds much more sensible and tend to make much sense

Anonymous said...

Minority lack empathy, majority are frustrated. I'm a doc too. Had a miscarriage after being on call for 2 straight weeks. Was given a week off and resumed call again afterwards. Worked another 3 weeks straight before someone new came to relieve me. If u had seen me during d weeks after my miscarriage, I'm sure you would have thought I lacked empathy.

thisisnotmyname said...

I have more family members in the medical profession, and I approve this doctor's message.

My dream is to build a world class research/teaching hospital in Nigeria where medical professionals can learn and apply their knowledge in an environment conducive for both patients and doctors.

Igweoda said...

Chai

Unknown said...

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello,
goodbye. See the link below for more info.

#goodbye
www.ufgop.org

Unknown said...

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello,
goodbye. See the link below for more info.

#goodbye
www.ufgop.org

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