Medical Negligence in Nigeria: A Quick Guide on Liabilities and Remedies
18 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2019 Last revised: 27 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 28, 2019
In Nigeria, there is an alarming increase of medical negligence, and this is due to lack of available manpower and infrastructure in the health sector. Most Nigerians have experienced a terrible state of care by health care providers. These health care providers are generally called medical practitioners. They are qualified and appropriately registered to practice. They include any professional within the medical field, e.g. nurse, doctors, surgeons, pediatricians, pharmacists, radiologists, ophthalmologists and a host of others. Currently, there are lots of reports on social media and newspapers of harms incurred by patients as a result of the negligent care provided by medical practitioners. An empirical work by a researcher shows that 61.69% of Nigerian patients feel that medical practitioners in Nigeria are arrogant and careless about their conditions and plights. Also, 33.3% of Nigerian patients indicated that their doctor’s treatment had caused them extra injury beyond the ones that took them to the hospital. In spite of this large number of victims, the number of cases recorded or filed as lawsuits are low. The reason for low-level of claims includes a cultural notion of adverse medical events, poverty, illiteracy, limited option of treatment, reluctant to seek redress against the medical practitioner and most of all ignorance.
Against this background, patients must be properly informed of their rights to claim and the possibility of instituting a suit against negligent health providers. Certainly, the quality of care may improve in Nigeria if health care providers are liable for their careless acts. It becomes apposite to closely examine the legal rights and remedies available to a patient who has been a victim of medical negligence.
Keywords: Medical Negligence, Causation, Vicarious Liability, Health Care Providers, Duty of Care, The National Health Act, The Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
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