Medical criminal negligence and professional misconduct, in Nigeria

Medical criminal negligence and professional misconduct, in Nigeria

The case emanated from a criminal complaint in 2018, against Dr. Ferdinand Ejike Orji by the parents of one Somtochukwu Ezi-Ashi, a 16 year old boy who was a high school student in the USA at the time. While on holiday playing basketball he fell and injured his left leg. It was later discovered to be a fracture. He was rushed to Excel C Medical Centre in Ikoyi where Dr. Ejike Orji, the Medical Director, sedated him got a police orderly and a basketball coach who accompanied him to pull the limb in opposite directions and applied fiberglass on the leg from the thigh to the toe. He did not bother to get his mother’s consent neither did he do an x-ray. The doctor only sent the patient for an x-ray in Surulere after he had applied the cast.

As the effect of the sedative wore off, the patient started to complain of pain and tightness in the leg and could not sleep during the night due to the pain.
The patient’s mother requested that the cast be removed but Dr. Orji only cut open a square hole in the back of the knee and asked them to go home and he told her that the pain would stop within 2 days. Subsequently, the father of the victim contacted two orthopedic surgeons to ask what to do. It turned out that Somtochukwu had developed compartment syndrome which was the result of occlusion of blood supply to the limb. Compartment syndrome sets in at 4 to 6 hours and becomes irreversible after 24 hrs. The time elapsed before the cast was removed was 72hours.

Six surgical interventions were carried out at a Reddington Hospital Lagos before he was flown out to the USA for several other operations. The limb was saved but he developed Foot Drop.

Aside from the criminal complaint to the Police, the patient’s mother also lodged a complaint to the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Investigation Panel in March 2019 against Dr. Orji, alleging that the management of her son’s condition was negligent.

The Panel determined that there was evidence of misconduct in a professional respect against Dr. Ejike Orji referred him to the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal.

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