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Patients lament doctors’ negligence in caesarean deliveries

Mrs Medinatu Jaiyeoba (pseudonym) is presently reeling in pains at the surgical ward of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH). She is one of…

Mrs Medinatu Jaiyeoba (pseudonym) is presently reeling in pains at the surgical ward of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH). She is one of the female victims who has to undergo another operation after doctors reportedly forgot a sanitary pad in her stomach during a caesarean section.

Medinatu, who is in her mid twenties, told Daily Trust that her experience is better explained than experienced.

Speaking from her hospital bed, the housewife said the journey to her predicament started in December 2021.

“My Expected Delivery Date (EDD) was in December and we had the operation at the private hospital of one Dr Shuaibu in Jebba, Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State. At first, everything was fine and the baby was okay. But when we got home, we had cause to return to the facility as I started experiencing stomach pain. After treatment, the pain subsided for a while only to become severe later. 

“It was horrific for me and my husband watching the doctor pulling a sanitary pad through my private parts with his bare hand at one of our hospital dates. 

“The most irritating part was that he insisted we had to pay for the process of removing the pad which was a mistake on his part in the first place. He did not even consider my health and the pain I was passing through,” Medinatu said.

She said she was later brought to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital for further checks and treatment after she collapsed at the market square in Jebba.

“After we got to UITH, I was passing discharge like excreta which the doctors later described as congenital fistula. I don’t know whether it was the first operation in Jebba that led to the subsequent ones, but I had another operation for appendix after the one to correct the fistula at UITH. That is three operations in less than four months”, she added.

Her husband, Muhammed Saba, said her condition has cost them several hundreds of thousands of naira and pints of blood.   

Another victim, while narrating her experience to Daily Trust from her hospital bed in UITH, said she and her husband are contemplating removing her womb following the doctors advise.

According to the woman, who simply identified herself as Hajarat, her case is more pathetic.

“My deliveries in my first two pregnancies were through operations. But the second one was devastating for me. We had it at a private hospital here in Ilorin. That doctor is even a senior consultant whom many of the doctors that later handled my case respected a lot. I just want to protect his identity because he volunteered to be responsible for substantial part of the expenses running into several hundreds of thousands that we have so far incurred at the UITH.

“After we had the operation for my second child, I began to experience some pains in my stomach when I got home. But my family, especially my mother, said I would be okay that she also experienced such during her time. But on the day’ of my child’s naming ceremony, it became unbearable. I was vomiting, stooling and coughing. I was rushed to the private hospital where I was stabilised and returned home. But after about a month, I was returned to the hospital following more severe stomach pain. In the night, I would not be able to sleep coupled with the stress of taking care of my baby.

“But we were advised to go to the state-owned Ilorin General Hospital from where we were referred to UITH. It was at UITH that doctors returned me to the theatre to check what was really wrong after series of scans failed to detect anything. It was there that they discovered there were two sanitary pads in my stomach. After the operation and evacuation, I landed at the trauma centre of the UITH. But I was still bleeding. 

“This time, a pipe had already been inserted into my stomach and it was one of the doctors that raised the alarm when he saw blood coming out through the pipe that I was already having internal bleeding. They wheeled me to the theater again for another operation to stop the bleeding.

“Now, we have been advised to stop child bearing because I left four incisions already and another one may be devastating. That is why we are contemplating removing my womb because my second pregnancy that got us here was due to a failed pregnancy pill,” she added.

A nurse in one of the cottage hospitals in Ilorin West said they have had cases whereby items such as gauze bandage had been left in the stomach of the patient after a caesarean section with the devastating and sometimes life-threatening experiences that go with it.

“We have heard of cases where surgical equipment like scissors and other tools have been left in the stomach of patient, but we haven’t experience that here,” she added.

Reacting to the issue, the Kwara State chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Isa Baba, told Daily Trust that there is need for more regulation to prevent quacks from carrying out caesarean operations.

“There are many people calling themselves doctors these days who are not doctors and who do not have what it takes to have a theatre. In an ideal theatre, it is not only doctors that are there; there are other people like nurses and other medical staff who usually count whatever they bring in during the operations; the number of packs that were brought in and all the surgical materials. By the time the surgery is over, they repeat the counting process, everything. But if it is done in hospitals run by quacks, definitely those procedures won’t be followed.

“NMA is working closely with the Ministry of Health in Kwara State to check quackery. And don’t get me wrong; quackery is not limited to only those who are not doctors. Even among doctors, if you do something that you’re not trained to do, you’re a quack. 

He advised the affected patients and their relatives to report such cases to the NMA as a matter of their rights.  

“They should petition the NMA against those people. By doing that, we will be able to identify who does what and we have a disciplinary panel which is equivalent in status to a federal high court,’’ he said.

Asked whether it is possible for a consultant to make such a mistake, the NMA boss said “If the person is a consultant gynaecologist, it is unlikely to make such a mistake. But there are many people who are operating but are not supposed to.

“If they are consultants, obstetricians, definitely they won’t do that. I’m a psychiatrist and deal with mental health but if I venture into such an area, I’m a quack in that field whether I’m a consultant or not. People shouldn’t practices outside their area of discipline but should do whatever they know best because human life is sacrosanct and we should respect it,” he added.

However, according to Dr Nurudeen Abdulraheem, a consultant and Paediatric Surgeon, the issue is more than the competency or otherwise of the medical personnel.

“These things happen in the best of places and the best of hands in certain situations which we cannot prevent as humans. The only thing is that certain things have been put in place to prevent it. It now depends on to what extent those measures are followed. But even in the best of places, it can still happen.

“Just like the aviation industry, safety precaution is very paramount in medical practice. But despite that, we still record plane crashes by the best of pilots in the best of conditions and airplanes. The only way we can indict such private hospitals is when we find out that there were certain breaches medically during the process of the operation.   

“It is like a learner and expert made to drive a Hocar one hundred times. It is possible that in some instances, the leaner with drive accident free while the driver will have accident. But the frequency of their accidents for the one hundred times defines how we will know experts.

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