In living memory
A hospital in Abia State refused to release medical reports, results of blood tests and the radiological tests done on their patient who requested transfer to another hospital. The doctor was angry they chose to leave his hospital, even though the patient was deteriorating.
He felt they were insulting him!
This occurs more often in public hospitals and some will remove urinary catheters, cannulas (for intravenous infusions), bandages on wounds etc, from the patients before tossing them out. Many others will physically force patients out of the hospital bed, once discharged and refuse to re-admit the patient should they return for whatever reason. A few hospitals have in my experience, refused the use of their ambulances, to convey the patients to the nearest hospital or home, in a childish game of retribution.
Some hospitals do have them
Some hospitals, doctors and nurses refuse to disclose the names of drugs or treatments to their patients, for fear the patient will know what they are taking and then go off to buy it from an outside source. Some doctors also refuse to disclose details of operations performed, implants used or other critical details for whatever reason, best known to them.
These are the issues up for discussion in this article and you are free to join in. Patients, relatives, doctors and nurses should join the debate. Especially, if you are a healthcare practitioner and most especially, if you work in such an environment. You might even be one of the doctors or the owner of such a dreadful hospital.
Naturally, you know where I stand.
The patient rules, OK!
The most important person and the reason hospitals exist is the patient. The man who ensures the bills are paid including the salaries of healthcare practitioners is the patient. Without the patient, the hospital might as well be a fancy elephant: like the Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The hospital did not have enough patients and financial resources to sustain the salaries of its expatriate workforce.
So, if patients don’t come, you are a goner!
Once you get that, you realise that the attitude and behavior of the practitioner is to ensure the wellbeing and longevity of the patient. Our job is to keep the patients alive and in good health, so they can come back again to see us and spend some more money. It’s just good business practice. Therefore, we cannot be nasty to the patients or perform acts that reduces their chances of survival, by not giving them the right information. Dead patients do not pay the bills!
Doctors and hospitals cannot afford to alienate any patient, even those who choose to leave for another facility. You only reinforce their bad impression of your service and care by being petty and nasty. Your job is to be so good they miss you and regret leaving.
Hospitals with good standard of care are transparent. Those who are opaque are often cheats and charlatans who are necessarily obtuse to cover up their inadequacies. A doctor or hospital worth its salt, will not interfere in the progressive care of the patient by hiding information.
Results of blood tests, MRI and CT scans belong to the patient, not the hospital. The hospital did not pay for the tests and they were not performed free of charge. So, if the patient requests for the results, please do not make it impossible for them to obtain same. Hospitals can make copies for themselves, as necessary, for inclusion in the case files.
Finally, on drugs!
Patients, must, as a right, be told the names and the dosage of their medications. Many have been prescribed the same drugs by different facilities and end up taking significant and harmful overdose. Do not hide the names of drugs from patients. Only poorly trained doctors and nurses will behave like this: demonstrating such a high level of insecurity and dimness.
Someone must see the light!
It is important for patients to know their rights and the recent patients’ bill of rights is a step in the right direction. Medicolegal consequences should also be explored by aggrieved patients and relatives to bring erring practitioners and hospitals to book.
Doctors need to demonstrate stronger allegiance to the patient and not to the hospital. Doctors also should show more interest in legal processes to penalize poor practice or compensate patients or families who have suffered consequently. We cannot improve quality of care without being part of a medicolegal prosecution system or at least develop a robust medicolegal culture in Nigeria. The current regulatory systems are not strong enough to deal with erring hospitals especially the publicly owned ones. The government will not sanction itself!
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