Do You Trust Your Doctor? Maybe You Should Ask More Questions! – Editor of Redsheet Magazine Chris Ayo Joseph Shares the Story of His Mom’s Scary Encounter with Wrongly Prescribed Drugs

It’s interesting that many times we believe that when a doctor scribbles something on his pad it’s sacrosanct and we really shouldn’t ask so many questions as laymen just hoping to get better. It’s important to ask questions because your life is very important. Chris Ayo Joseph, the editor of Red Sheet Magazine sent his story to the media. Red Sheet is a magazine that features all the glamorous celebrities and we are glad he shared a story that truly hits home. We hope that you learn a lesson or two from his story.

On June 23rd 2009, my mum was not feeling fine and she went to a private hospital. She was complaining of breathing problems and was feeling quite uncomfortable. The doctor at the private hospital in Lagos referred her to the teaching hospital to get expert examination from a specialist.
Two days later she went to the teaching hospital where she was referred for chest x-rays and tests. She went ahead to do these tests and x-rays and returned with the test results to the specialist at the teaching hospital. The specialist took a look at the result and prescribed an oral steroid.
My mum went back home, feeling quite happy that finally her breathing problems would be arrested for good. Not knowing that her problems were just about to multiply.
She started taking the prescribed drugs and within one week she noticed her skin had started getting lighter and kind of orange looking. She also noticed that the breathing problems had not improved. She went back to the doctor and complained again and the doctor increased her dosage.
About a month later, my sister (a doctor of pharmacy in the USA) arrived from the USA for holiday in Nigeria, not knowing what was going on. She noticed that her mother’s skin was looking funny and she asked “mama what is wrong with your skin?” It was at this stage that my mum narrated the story to her and showed her the drugs.
My sister asked her what the diagnosis was and why she was prescribed such a drug. My mum told her that the doctor had diagnosed a rare form of chest infection that required a specific test to confirm before prescribing the oral steroids, but to my sisters disbelief the required test was not done and my mum was placed on that very harsh regimen without a confirmatory test.
My sister with her pharmacy knowledge knew what the side effects of oral steroid were and was not happy that her mum had been put on such a harsh drug.
First of all my mum is diabetic and the oral steroid is contra indicated for a diabetic. The oral steroid that was prescribed prompted her use of insulin in conjunction with her oral diabetic medication; she also gained tremendous weight that she found it difficult to walk. The weight gain also prompted a weight aggravated hypertension which stressed her heart even further. Can you believe that the doctors never asked her about her previous medical history before placing her on the steroids? Maybe if they had asked they would have known that she was diabetic and should have never been placed on the steroids, but they never asked.
We immediately flew my mum to USA, for follow up medical checkup. When she arrived at USA, they looked at the case file and immediately started questioning the use of the oral steroid. They did a conclusive test that showed that the diagnosis from Nigeria was wrong. What the Nigerian doctors had seen on her chest x-ray were scars from a previous cancer treatment (Radiotherapy) and they interpreted these to mean a rare infection.
The doctors in USA commenced extensive tests, first for the 2 organ systems that support breathing which are the heart and lungs, they asked if a diagnostic test was done (such as a lung biopsy to support their findings in Nigeria). They were alarmed that diagnostic test was not done. The biopsy test done in the USA ruled out what was diagnosed in Nigeria and the lungs were not even involved, it was the heart, she had suffered a heart attack and they were given her an oral steroid that could cause another heart attack. How careless.
Then the battle began, to do damage control, her blood glucose had sky rocketed, due to the steroid. Steroid cannot be stopped abruptly so they had to taper the dose for months while watching her blood glucose and monitoring her insulin intake, they scheduled a heart surgery and implanted a stent to the blocked artery. She was monitored for up to a year, until everything was satisfied.
Ours was a happy ending but not many have this. Patients must be involved in their health care by asking questions. If you are uncomfortable get a second opinion from another doctor.
To Gods glory, my mum is well and most of the problems caused by the Oral steroids have been reversed except the use of insulin.
So next time you visit your doctor, you have a right to ask him questions like

“what is the diagnosis?”  “

Does it require a test?”

“What is the name of the drug prescribed?”

“Why am I been prescribed this drug?”

“What are the side effects?”

Insist on doing a medical test to confirm the diagnosis even if it is malaria. Then in order to allay your fears, the internet is a very good resource tool; do a search on the prescribed drug and read about the side effects. If you are not comfortable then go back to see your doctor again and quiz him or her till you are satisfied.
Although we had an unpleasant situation, Nigerian doctors have excelled in many parts of the world and are probably failing in diagnosis sometimes due to lack of the required equipment.

Every medical challenge includes yourself and your doctor, so ensure you play your part by asking questions, it is your right to know. Cheers!

Chris Ayo Joseph is the General Editor of The Redsheet Entertainment Magazine. Focus, hard work, patience, consistency and prayers are his watchwords. A young man that believes everything is achievable on earth. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_ayojoseph

26 Comments on Do You Trust Your Doctor? Maybe You Should Ask More Questions! – Editor of Redsheet Magazine Chris Ayo Joseph Shares the Story of His Mom’s Scary Encounter with Wrongly Prescribed Drugs
  • Partyrider October 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm


  • Gezani October 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    My mom is diabetic and her diabetes was not getting under control. A friend who is a doctor requested to see her medication. She found that she was over medicated, there is a certain type of medication which cant be combination if one is diabetic and have BP but she was given. Last year she went to a doctor with her file and her doctor found that the previous doctor was giving her epilepsy medication. Me and my sisblings were so angry but my mum didnt want us to take it further. Doctors do misdiognise so many times.

  • Bellanaijathegreatest October 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Sorry for your experience in LUTH (probably), maybe you did not go the the pathcare managed ward, the rest of Luth is purely luck, it as an aroma of boredon mixed with lack of serious care. Actually, you don’t need to know much about drugs to know that anything containing steroid should be the last resort, and the prescription of the drug should trigger a second opinion. Usually drugs like that are giving when an alternative is not available or is not working becuase they trigger some side effects. Also, I doubt luth does a serious biopsy. They just do blood work/x ray. PAthcare does the biopsy though.

    • O October 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      why assume the writer was referring to LUTH??? isnt LASUTH too a teaching hospital?…besides do you work with Pathcare?? even before the Pathcare lab was opened in LUTH, ppl ave been running test and getting their correct results!….you shouldn’t rubbish the whole of LUTH just because of one bad doctor. i will rather go to LUTH than all these private hospitals…..truth is you need to be careful, ask questions and goggle whatever a doctor tells you irrespective of the hospital….sebi its a well respected hospital that couldnt diagnose that Gani Fawehimi had lung cancer

  • ToBechiStyle October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Doctors are humans are are prone to mistakes. In Nigerian doctors, it is more of being ill-equipped and not fully cognizant of medical diagnoses or pathways. The lab tests done should have been indicative of the heart attack your mum suffered because certain cardiac levels will be elevated. Not to encourage anyone to become an internet doctor, but it is a good place to start as the writer also suggested. Always remember to ask questions from more than one source.Thank GOD for your sister and glad to know your mum is in much better health:).

  • cindylee October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Sometimes some doctors feel like you are questioning their authority when you ask questions like there was a time I had issues with my skin and saw a dermatologist. He prescribed some drugs quite alright and when i asked him some questions on the drugs, he was so furious and defensive and he didn’t even satisfy me. I had to leave him alone and do my research on the internet which i believe was not enough which led me to stop taking some of the drugs because of some of the serious side effects for some of them like steriods. Till date, i still have the same issues with my skin and i am so sceptical of going to see any more dermatologist after seeing like two of them.

  • Mojisola October 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hmmmmmm, thank God this ended well o. I always question the doctors, no matter how hard your face looks. If they get defensive, its their business, as long as my questions are answered, your attitude doesn’t affect me. In addition to asking question, I also google and research the drugs prescribed and their composition. As patients its our responsibilty to be informed. As a mother of 3 I constantly grill my sons’ paediatricians. Just a little while ago, my second son had a slight upper respiratory infection and was given antibiotics. After that, his skin started peeling and we thought it was the result of the weather which was extremely hot at the time cos it started like a rash. And then after a week of staying at home, the peeling completed its course from head to toe(it was as if he took off a jacket). The second time he had an infection he was given another antibiotic(but under the same family as the first one) and the peeling started again, so we took him back to the doctor who referred him to the consultant and it was then we found out that he and his (in particular) and his brother were allergic to medicines under the family name “cephalosprosins’ and from then on it was stamped on their medical file.
    Of course I went back home and googled the reaction to the drug called ‘Steve Johnsons”. It was then I found out that we had been lucky and God indeed protects his own. This drug reaction could have been fatal but for the mercies of God. Thank God for another happy ending. Some experiences with pregnancy and child bearing have just taught me not to depend on just the doctor’s opinion alone. They are human and prone to making mistakes.

  • Bumight October 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    It is not about NOT trusting your doctor. medicine in Naija is still paternalistic. Your doctor is not God. He is providing a service to you. It seems like doctors like keeping their patients in the dark so that they can keep coming back. Patients too, once they “know” something, they feel like they are doctors and self diagnose.
    If your patient population is educated, it forces you as a doctor to be on your toes and be conversant with the latest medicine out there- something Naija doctors aren’t willing to do.
    Do doctors misdiagnose? Yes, but not all of them. The problem is a lot of them (at least in Naija) aren’t up to date.

  • Konnie October 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Good thing thing your mother got better and the situation has been brought under control. I live here in the US and I can give you a litany of misdiagnosis etc I have received over the years. It happens her too. Yes you have to be an educated consumer and question your health care professional or you will find yourself ‘upstairs’ before your time.
    Thank it is easier to do your personal research too and go for second and third opinions.

  • vickky October 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Thank goodness that you had the means to take your mom overseas for further medical treatment culminating in a Happy ending. It was rather unfortunate that the medical error was made in the first place. It is truly horrifying when one realises that a patient has gotten worse or had his/her life at risk due to medical error. One really squirms in the skin upon reading such a story and then reading more outbursts of condemnation in reaction to the story. Its humbling, embarassing and opens one up for a lot of soul searching.
    While not holding brief for any doctor one should realise that medical errors are a worldwide problem. Nigeria has its own unique set of medical issues too. From low budgetary provision for healthcare (3-5% as against the WHO recommended 15%), low doctor to patient ratios, long hours, competition from quacks, lack of every imaginable equipment and consumable etc. Most times, one knows what to test for but the facilities arent available in a particular centre, locality, state or region!
    A unique issue we have is the occasionally paternalistic approach by medics and the sometimes disbelieving or noncooperative attitude of patients and relatives. Im careful with my words here as some doctors are really up to date with a wonderful bedside manner and some patients are quite a delight to attend to. Some other patients can be a trial as they second guess you, ask the nurse if your prescription is really right or even deny what you spent the last half hour painstakingly explaining to them while another 10-20 patients were waiting their turn to see the doctor.
    The way around issues? Doctors should talk more with their patients explaining ailments, situations, medications and prognosis. Patients should ask your doctor questions, check out the internet (remember not everything on the net is true!), seek a second or third opinion if need be. If your doctor is offended, apply wisdom and let him know that you need to be well informed about your condition.
    Hopefully medical errors should not occur anymore.
    I find that in the long run, the pati

  • timi October 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    its pathetic to see such ignorance being discussed in the public .Diabetics cannot use steroids??? such ignorance.Diabetics can use steroids they just should be made aware that they need to monitor their sugars more closely as it makes your sugars higher.The steroid dose should be gradually tapered as the breathing problems get better.Weight gain and high blood pressure is the side effect of steroids.All medications have side effects even water. Taking medication is a game of benefits versus risk.If the risk and side effects are more than benefits its time to stop. You all need forgiveness for saying these things about a doctor that was trying to help you all.Karma is a bitch!!

  • vickky October 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    @timi, thank you for your apt summary. My sentiments exactly.

  • isabella October 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    To think d doctors are incompetent yet they always go on strike demanding 4 useless wages!anyway thank God for his mercies

  • KKsweets October 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    That’s why I’ll never ever take a drug without first of all checking it out on google…I must know the side effects (short + long term) its interactions with other drugs etc.; I don’t care if the doctor is a SPECIALIST. If the drugs acts funny with me, immediately I stop taking them. I would have died 7 years ago due to wrong drug prescription!

  • Purpleicious Babe October 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    it can happen anywhere….. DEVELOPED or developing countries, misdiagnosis happens.

    Question till you are content regardless of where you go for help. But in Nigeria, the increasing number of misdiagnosis might be largely attributed due to lack of advanced medical treatments/facilities, lack of progressive training and support and more importantly lack PATIENCE and care.

    Thank God for her life and thanks for sharing. xxx

  • ao October 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    As a physician, I’d say several valid points have been raised:
    – medical errors occur everywhere in the world but we have a higher incidence of them in Nigeria due to many of the reasons already mentioned by others. Unfortunately, because of our poor statistics, accurate numbers can’t be obtained.
    – you have every right as a patient to question your doctor, but as with anything else, if this is done in a confrontational way the doctor will definitely be on the defensive. However, we still have too many doctors who practice old-fashioned paternalistic medicine and do not want any one asking them questions. Please avoid such doctors like the plague – many of them don’t update their knowledge enough to know that medicine is no longer practiced that way!
    – @Timi, yes steroids have side effects, the same as any other drugs. However the side effects of steroids are well-documented as being multiple and potentially severe, and as a result they should only be given with close supervision and the patient told all the potential risks, and what to look out for. The unacceptable aspect of this, according to the side of the story we can read here, is that even when the side effects were noted, appropriate adjustments were not made and the dose was increased. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that a professional made a mistake, even when the person is trying to help – he or she is trained to do a job to the best of their ability, not in a slipshod manner.
    If this is truly what happened to this woman, errors were made which could have resulted in a medical malpractice suit in other countries. Errors unfortunately will continue to happen everywhere, but when you know there are consequences to your actions you take more care. Its a symptom of the disease that ails Nigeria in general – no one follows any laws since there are no consequences to breaking them, due to lack of enforcement.

  • Lazioman October 25, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Very revealing. Thank you for posting this. Although your mom was lucky, I lost both of my parents to the ill-forces of the health care system in Nigeria. It is so unfortunate that we have educated doctors who are not up to date or lack the resources to provide effective diagnosis to patients.

  • Amaka October 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    My uncle had a terrible experience with doctors in Nigeria. He was having chest pains and was coughing non stop. He went from one hospital to another even went to National Hospital in Abuja and was told it was just a cold and he will be alright. It wasn’t until he coughed up blood that my aunt vexed and took him America. When he went to the hospital he was informed he had stage 4 cancer and that they couldn’t treat him and he was given a year to live. The family had to carry him from hospital to hospital until they found a hospital in NY willing to treat him. Thank God he is still here after almost 3 years. It’s just pathetic as to how silly Nigerian doctors are. Do your research please ppl these doctors are not smart or up to date.

  • Tope October 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Dis story is kind of sad but then do we also realise many patients do not tell the truth about their previous health history? i have a patient who was asked if he was asthmatic or hypertensive and his mother quickly shouted “God forbid, its not in our family, even 10 generations before us”. the doctor then went ahead to prescribe certain drugs that were contraindicated. the next two days, the mum rushed the young man to the hospital and began raining abuses. the doctor calmly asked again if he was asthmatic or hypertensive” It was at that point the mother said “EHm, the boy was born with asthma but they have been praying about it for days and were currently on a dry fast about it hence she rejected it at the last exam”” . so people, doctors are not demi gods! ask questions, do your research and tell the truth about your previous history tooo!!!

  • timi October 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

    @dr ao. correct diagnosis in hospitals where they do not even have water or elecrtricity dem be winch! Lets face it the only time we will get correct diagnosis in Nigeria is if we put the correct facilities in place.In the advanced world they will run several test on you before arriving at a diagnosis.In Nigeria do we have all the equipments that aid diagnosis? We all need to stay in Nigeria and fight the elites who have enslaved us for so long.No functioning hospital ,no compassion from health care workers.Dame patience is flying all over the place to get treatment that she could have gotten in nigeria if she and her husband fix nigerian hospitals.i hope she has a concord jet to fly her out the next time she falls sick because if she does not fix nigerian hospitals.She may die in a plane flying her abroad to fix her health.I am not wishing her bad luck but if they do not fix Nigerian hospitals.They will die like chicken before them reach german clinic.Yes,Na me talk am!

  • Mujer Casada October 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I am ecstatic your mother got correctly diagnosed. More importantly, the almighty Jeho had decided it was not her time. Otherwise, she should have perished with a myocardial infarction that was untreated. Mind you, once you have had one, the risk of a second event is quite high if there is no treatment. To God be the glory. Now to Nigerian docs. This is typical. I have seen someone whose scrotum was removed because he had prostate cancer. I have seen someone prescribed cancer drugs and not advised about the drugs they were taking or the side effects. Lo and behold they lost their sense of taste, could not eat, suffered all sorts of side effects from teh medication and they are in the ground today. Nigerians, this article sends an important message. QUESTION your doctor. They are not gods. It is your right as a patient to know what you are being given. Ask them to explain the biology of their treatment approach. Ask them how they came to their conclusions. Ask, ask, ask. Ask as if you are questioning a child (in a respectful manner of course). If the doc is unwilling to to give you answers or gets angry, please carry your load and RUN RUN RUN before relatives have to buy casket for you. Information is power.

  • UK doctor October 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Oral steroids are nt contradicted in diabetes. You just have to be careful when prescribing them and manage the patients blood glucose carefully. In some cases, you have no choice but to prescribe them. Nevertheless, the doctor should always be aware of the patients full medical history before anythng is prescribed. Nigerian doctors and in fact, the whole healthcare system requires support and action! Not just criticism

  • D Fairy GodSister October 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks be to God that your mother survived this, He’s always merciful isn’t He? As for the healthcare system, regardless of the location (developed or developing nation), the practitioners are human and so are prone to mistakes. The degree of occurrence is the issue, Nigeria obviously has issues.

    I agree with the person who said the patients need to have a certain level of education themselves, and in these days, not just accept hook, line, and sinker.

  • vivian October 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    i hope emel hospital festac town is listening…The most useless hospital in the entire universe. they even produce coffins there cos pple die everyday there.smh

  • Anthony Monjaro November 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Honestly when it comes to Nigerian health care…. I CAN NOT trust the practitioners. Too many stories of malpractice’s…. if they were to investigate a fraction of the medical cases that go on in Nigeria, most of the medical practitioners would have lost their licenses…. Shames the govt, is not doing much about it.

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