Medical Negligence

Medical negligence is an offspring of the tort of negligence called professional negligence. Medical negligence is an act or omission in the treatment of a patient which deviates from the accepted medical standard of care required of a medical personnel. When such negligence causes injury to the patient, it becomes medical malpractice. The two vital ingredients of medical negligence are causation and injury.

In recent times, there have been rising cases of complaints against health care professionals in relation to standard of professional competence and appropriateness of treatment methods deployed in the care of patients in Nigeria. The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, the body charged with the regulation and discipline of medical and dental practitioners in Nigeria has received an increased number of complaints in recent times. Many of such cases have ultimately ended up on appeal before the Medical and Dental Practitioner Disciplinary Committee.

Although the Police in Nigeria have a duty to investigate and prosecute for criminal negligence, individual victims of medical negligence are advised to lodge their complaints with the Police and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria at the same time. For reasons of absence or poor knowledge of medical procedures and techniques, inability to see investigation to logical conclusions, high incidents of crippling corruption and a host of other factors, victims are advised to pursue their complaint at the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria which has a professional Investigating Panel.

The attitude of leaving everything in God’s hand is fast being replaced by awareness of rights, vigilance and insistence on appropriate standards and competence by patients. Health care professionals would do well to familiarise themselves with the Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria, 2008, to ensure a reduction in ethical violations and medical negligence.

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