Negligence: Court jails medical doctor

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Justice Adedayo Akintoye of  Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, has sentenced a medical doctor, Ejike Orji, to one year imprisonment for negligence and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.

Ejike and his wife, Grace Orji,  were sometime in May 2019 arraigned on a three- count of causing grievous harm, negligence and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient, Ezi-Ashi.

The couple pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The wife, also a medical doctor, was sometime in 2020 discharged and acquitted by the court based on the Director of Public Prosecutions advice.

Ejike was re-arraigned on an amended six-count charge, which he pleaded not guilty.

However, at the resumed hearing on Friday, Justice Akintoye, sentenced the defendant, Ejike, to one year at the Correctional Centre for endangering the life of his patient.

The doctor, who is the Medical Director of Excel Medical Centre, Dolphin Estate, was found guilty on four out of the six-count charge.

However, he was discharged on counts one and five which were on conspiracy to commit the offences.

Delivering judgement, Akintoye held that the prosecution was able to establish the essential ingredients of the offence of breach of duty, care and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.

The court further held that the defendant’s action fell below what was reasonably expected of a medical doctor.

Akintoye said: “It is my opinion that the defendant committed a breach of duty as a medical practitioner, when he willfully refused to remove the fiberglass cast on the patient’s left leg despite complaints of severe pains which thereby resulted in a compartment syndrome.”

The court held that the convict applied Plaster of Paris (POP) cast on Ezi-Ashi’s leg using none medical staff and without carrying out an x-ray to identify the level of injury.

Akintoye said that Ejike did not obtain the consent of the mother of the patient, who was in the hospital as at the time the POP was done.

She held that the convict carried out the procedure and gave medical treatment to the patient which turned out to be injurious to his health.

“The prosecution has established the essential ingredients of the offences of breach of duty.

The prosecution has, therefore, proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.

“On counts one and five, the defendant, Ejike Orji is thereby found not guilty.

“On counts two, three, four and six, I find him guilty and he is accordingly convicted. This is the judgment of the court,” Akintoye held.

In his plea of allocutus, the defendant’s counsel, Mr Ajibola Ariba, urged the court to temper justice with mercy.

Ariba said that the defendant had never been convicted of any crime in the past.

He stated that the defendant was born in 1958, therefore, advanced in age and urged the court to consider an option of fine.

After his plea for mercy, Akintoye held: “I have listened to plea for leniency on behalf of the convict, I hereby sentence him to one year imprison each, on counts two, three, four and six.

“The sentence will run concurrently,” she said.

The Lagos State Government had said that the defendant on July 26, 2018, at Excel Medical Centre, Dolphin Estate, fixed a POP cast on a 16-year-old Ezi-Ashi’s leg which caused him grievous harm.

The state through their counsel, Mr Babatude Sunmonu, stated that the victim complained of discomfort and asked that the POP be relaxed but the defendant allegedly refused.

He said that the cast resulted in the teenager becoming unconscious and he was subsequently rushed to the Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, where he was operated upon.

Sunmonu said that the Reddington Hospital discovered that the defendant had sawed off the POP and allegedly damaged the muscles in the lower part of the boy’s leg, foot and toes.

According to the prosecutor, the victim underwent four major surgeries, following his critical condition, two orthopaedic surgeons from the United States of America extracted the dead muscles from the leg.

He said that it was a major struggle to save the boy’s life as he had to be flown to the United States (U.S.) for further attention. 

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