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Talking Law With Ivie Omoregie: Medical Negligence

Ivie Omoregie

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Sometime last year a friend of mine asked me to accompany her for a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) procedure.

Body augmentation procedures are becoming more and more prominent in Nigeria, from non-invasive procedures to full body reconstructions. Everyone knows one particular doctor in VGC who has quickly grown in popularity due to the amazing results he has consistently delivered.

Unfortunately, my friend decided to use another doctor in Oniru who I didn’t know much about, but I had to respect her wishes.

The whole ordeal was possibly the scariest thing I have ever experienced. Not the BBL procedure itself; to be honest, I know a few people who have done this, none of them have ever regretted their actions and I believe it is a personal choice everyone is entitled to make.

However, this particular doctor had some unorthodox ways; from keeping his patients under general anesthesia for 7 hours instead of the industry norm of 2-3 hours to administering addictive painkillers to sedate patients without being truthful to the next of kin. The thing that completely freaked me out was when he rolled out a patient from the theatre at 4:37 AM. At this point, I just started crying. His first procedure was from 12 PM – 7 PM, and the second procedure was from like 9 PM – 4:37 AM.

This made me think about the laws regulating medical negligence in Nigeria, and the rights of a patient should anything go wrong. I felt the need to write this article to shed more light and stress the importance of understanding your surgeon, regardless of jurisdiction.

Medical Negligence

The main principle governing medical negligence in Nigeria emanates from a judgment given by Lord Denning in his book, “The Discipline of Law,” and it states that a medical practitioner should only be found guilty of medical negligence where it is clear to all his other colleagues in the industry that he categorically did something which he ought not to have done.

This principle acknowledges the fact that when dealing with sick people in a hospital, there is always a risk of having adverse results, no matter the extent of care and diligence exercised by the practitioner. Every surgical operation involves risks. Thus it would be wrong and unfair to hold medical practitioners and their establishments liable for every mishap that might have happened under their watch.

Lord Denning stressed that it would be disastrous to any community if every medical practitioner, whilst taking care of his patients, was forever looking over his shoulder in case someone wanted to claim an action for negligence. Thus medical practitioners should not be found negligent simply because something went wrong.

That being said, medical practitioners do have a duty of care to their patients, and when they fall short of this duty of care their patients are entitled to compensation. Generally, medical practitioners will only be found negligent when they fall short of the standard reasonably expected of someone of their medical training. However, factors to be taken into account will vary from case to case.

Preliminary Issues To Consider

Usually, only the victim of the negligent act may sue for compensation, with exceptions being instances where the victim died as a result of the negligence or where the victim is a minor. In these instances, their next of kin may sue on their behalf.

A person will generally have a claim if any of the following occurs: –

  • They are misdiagnosed;
  • They are diagnosed properly but are given the wrong medication/treatment;
  • They are operated on and foreign objects are left in their body;
  • Where the doctor departs from industry norms in the way in which he carries out certain procedures; and the list goes on.

Persons wishing to make a claim have 3 years from the date they first received the negligent treatment or the date when it was first discovered that the treatment was negligent. Where this time frame has elapsed, the action will be deemed as statute barred and the victim deemed by the courts as having slept on their rights.

The amount of compensation awardable will again vary from case to case. However, the courts will take into account factors such as severity of injury, age, losses caused as a result of the negligence, and employment status of the victim. Unfortunately, this will mean that even where there is a successful outcome in the courts, middle class and upper-class people have a higher value placed of their lives than the working class masses, who are the most affected by medical negligence.

Attaining Judgment For Medical Negligence

On a number of occasions, I have discussed systematic errors with the Nigerian Judicial System. The harsh truth is that the masses lack adequate access to good legal representation, as well as knowledge on how to even enforce their rights. Aside from this, let’s not forget the challenges in getting timely judgments generally in Nigerian courts. All these factors make successful prosecution of a medical negligence case tedious and idealistic. Even where a victim successfully manages to get the necessary judgment, enforcement of judgment damages is another conversation entirely.

The body responsible for reviewing alleged cases of medical negligence in Nigeria is the Medical Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN. However, for a very long time, there has been no council at the MDCN, thus there appears to be a 3-year backlog of cases waiting to be attended to. Unfortunately, this has meant that any medical practitioner facing disciplinary action has continued to work and do the exact same things that might have been deemed as being negligent in the first place.

Conclusion

The truth is with the backlog currently being faced in the Nigerian court systems, the reality of litigation in Nigeria is that it is long, expensive and tedious, and might not yield the expected results. Unfortunately, when you look at this in light of the fact that the MDCN might not even have a valid council sitting to attend to cases of medical negligence, you appreciate the extent to which it is God’s wrath which is cautioning these practitioners.

It is my firm belief that this particular doctor is completely negligent in the fact that he is doing something, which from my understanding, his peers have warned him against time and time again. That is keeping people under general anesthesia for 7 hours when it is supposed to be a 2-3 hour procedure. The procedure itself has its inherent risks, so I was stunned to discover this medical professional incurring more risks that are completely unnecessary. I am not even going to talk about the cocktail of opioid pain sudation for a procedure for which they prescribe ibuprofen in the states.

This article has not touched on the legal ramifications of the informed consent agreements most medical practitioners make one sign prior to doing any serious procedures. I believe that one is yet another article entirely.

Ivie Omoregie is the Founding Consultant at Skye Advisory. Skye Advisory is a boutique business advisory firm with locations in London, England, as well as Lagos, Nigeria. Skye Advisory offers bespoke Legal, Financial and General Business advisory services to small and micro businesses. Ivie is a duly qualified lawyer with years of cross border experience in the areas of Corporate Advisory, Energy and Projects, Finance and Litigation.  Ivie is also an active member of the Nigerian Bar Association as well as an avid woman's and children's rights promoter. View more details about her at www.IvieOmoregie.com. Follow her on Twitter @Ivie_Omoregie and Instagram @Ivie.Omoregie "

33 Comments

  1. Mobesty

    January 8, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks Ivie

  2. Paul

    January 8, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    This article at best sounds gibberish. Keeps people on Anaesthesia for 7 hours instead of 3?? The timing of General Anaesthesia depends on the duration/ technique being used or surgical procedure b big performed; while another surgeon may be faster, the bottom line is patient safety, not speed. Now being a spine surgeon, I have done surgery for scoliosis for >12 hours.
    Also analgesia depends on threshold for pain. I have read your past articles, there r a lot better researched than this one. Cheers

    • Pained Paul

      January 9, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Please focus on the legal part hahahahaha
      However it’s a bit off spending 7 hours for a 3 hour procedure. That’s more than double the time. It’s like writing a 2 hour test in in 5 hours. Even if the person was allotted extra time due to learning difficulties, that would still be a fail. What about doing elective procedures till 5am in Nigeria.
      Not trying to sound condescending but you sound pained Paul. Like this is a personal attack.

  3. Nikki

    January 9, 2019 at 1:32 am

    Gbam. The Oniru doctor is that Lekki Hill plastic surgery hi. Whilst the VGC doctor is the Grandvill Laser guy. #ThankMeLater.

  4. Love

    January 9, 2019 at 1:33 am

    Love this piece. A lot of girls are jumping on this band wagon without truly appreciating the consequences.

  5. Nonye

    January 9, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Love love this article. Unfortunately this is the reality of cosmetic surgery done in third world countries. It is poorly regulated. Whether Nigeria or South America.

  6. Ede

    January 9, 2019 at 10:51 am

    I wonder if anyone has ever died in Nigeria due to these surgeries.

  7. Xaxa

    January 9, 2019 at 11:36 am

    The doctor from Lekki hill plastic surgery is a mad man shaaa. Takes far too many risks. That’s the main reason he had to leave Grandvill laser.

    • coolcat

      January 9, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Please what risks does he take? You might be helping someone by being specific

  8. Tobenna

    January 9, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Well said, always research the doctor first.

  9. Julie

    January 9, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Wow. Love this piece. Gonna send to all my friends looking for big bum bum.

  10. coolcat

    January 9, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    As an ignorant person with regards to surgery, I did a Google search and it said a typical Lipo and transfer takes 5-8 hours. Only Lipo will take 2-3 hours. So what industry standard is this learned professional referring to? Who determines the pain threshold of the patient and will ibuprofen work for every patient equally? Should a surgeon be more concerned with how quickly he can roll out patients or the quality of work done which she didn’t mention at all. From above we’ve figured out what doctors she’s referring to. The one in Vgc is notorious for weird looking bottoms that don’t match the legs of the patient. I don’t see any negligence here. Drugs administered will vary between patients and opiods will be addictive to someone who wants to be addicted. We grew up on codeine but that’s not the reason for the abuse and subsequent ban of codeine. Next story please

    • Tani

      January 9, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Welcome to the discussion Dr Femi of Lekki Hill Plastic Surgery.

    • Chanda

      January 9, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      Weird looking bottoms. Yet he is still doing better than Dr Femi of Lekki Hill Plastic Surgery. Too many people have complained about his. It’s really really bad.

  11. OPEYEMI

    January 9, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I’m so disappointed in your article. You are so ignorant of what you wrote about. The Oniru plastic Surgeon u talked about is still the best plastic surgeon doing BBL in Nigeria.
    What determine the duration of surgery are: type of surgery & the extent. However the safety of the patient & the outcome of the surgery is most important. How is doing surgery at midnight a medical negligence. Surgeries can be done @ anytime my dear. If you don’t know then you need more exposure.
    My advice, stop writing about things you don’t know. The fact that your BBL was done under 3hr does not mean all BBL will be done in 3hr. Compare your curves with those ones done by him & you will see the outcome of meticulousness.

    • Besties

      January 9, 2019 at 7:12 pm

      So your saying it is normal to do elective surgery in the middle of the night. ??? meticulous whilst risking the patients life. #ThatsAFail

    • Seven

      January 9, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      “The Oniru plastic Surgeon u talked about is still the best plastic surgeon doing BBL in Nigeria.” How can this be. What is the basis on comparison. In another jurisdiction he would not even be working.

    • Mio

      January 9, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      Well said Ope. Ivie, do better research next time, Ha!

    • Soul

      January 9, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      How can someone do research into an experience they encountered. The legal aspect of this article is spot on. Everyone has every right to their own opinion. Honestly it all sounds soo scary. I wonder why the doctor works like this.

  12. Secret

    January 9, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I wonder why he does his surgeries into the middle of the night. It’s quite scary. If anything happens everyone he needs to call to assist are sleeping in their homes.

  13. Dodgy doc

    January 9, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Well written article. Funniest thing is I don’t know anyone who has successfully sued any one. Let alone for medical negligence. I have all my treatment done abroad I can’t shout.

  14. Na wha

    January 9, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Nigeria shaaaaaa. Any Tom dick and Harry will just open office and be attending to customers. Only God knows if this man is properly qualified.

  15. Princess

    January 9, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    What resonates with me is the fact that should anything go wrong in Nigeria there really is no repocussions for these doctors who want to be experimenting with human beings. I am all for west African doctors breaking new ground. But the industry needs better regulation. ASAP. For the first time Nigeria is having medical tourism and it’s an exciting new development. I just pray these rotten eggs don’t spoil things for the other fantastic doctors in the country.

  16. Lol

    January 9, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    Potential suit for libel. Butt lifts are one of the most dangerous plastic surgery procedures with risk of fat emboli and death. I wish the direction of this article was more about having a public register for complications and outcomes for such procedures…even just in Lagos. You’ll be surprised even the better surgeon still has complications.
    I support a motion of transparency in outcomes and opioids for pain relief don’t lead to addiction in the short term post op and is routine practice in the West. Notwithstanding if your friend suffered a complication or unfavourable outcome…this requires transparency to encourage others to come forward. We can use social media positively in the absence of the Nigerian medical council.

  17. Cocoa

    January 9, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    If in this great time of the internet and free education you are still opting to risk your life for something as frivolous as a BBL ..then you are on your own oo!!!!

    Some make it out alive, some don’t. Others make it out alive with complications for life.

    If bigger bum and flatter tummy is worth your life..then goodluck to you. sigh.

  18. BBL in 9ja?

    January 9, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    I had a fibroid surgery done in 2017 very early in the morning and didn’t wake up till evening .
    2018, I had a miscarriage and had to have another surgery. I was very scared and was shifting in and out of consciousness . I was very wide awake by the time I was rolled out.
    I don’t think anaesthetics in various patients can be controlled, determined . It depends on individuals.
    I have been Praying For my boobs to get lifted without surgery . I’m scared of going under the knife for cosmetic reasons . I will manage my fallen heroes bebe.
    It takes a lot of guts to go for any surgery at all.

  19. Abi

    January 10, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Interesting and insightful read.

  20. Tandi

    January 10, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Love this article Ivie. Very on the ball. Too many Nigerians are jumping to go under the knife. I agree with the previous commentator about there being a register of complaints. Would hate for a situation where random doctors who have a “god” complex were straying too far from the norm. One thing I have noticed about Nigerian doctors is that they tend to be quite condescending, like their the only ones who went to school.

  21. LekkiHill Plastic Surgery Legal Team

    January 17, 2019 at 11:33 am

    RESPONSE AND COMMENT TO
    Talking Law With Ivie Omoregie: Medical Negligence — A Rejoinder by Valuedseed/LekkiHill Legal Team

    Introduction
    Our attention has been drawn to the above titled write-up purporting to elucidate the jurisprudence on medical negligence. Ordinarily, we would not have dissipated ink in a rejoinder since everyone has the right to their opinion, no less on an area of one’s profession. However, without dwelling much on the quality of the write-up (for we observed it does not even pass the test of a good paper on medical negligence since it does not elucidate the term “negligence” and importantly ommit the discussion on the legal implications of the informed consent), we note that it a hasty mischief calculated to defame our renowned surgical team. Importantly, the author, being a lawyer, has delved into an unknown water sand of medical practice without proper consultations and guidance.

    Defamation
    In the calculated essay to defame our renowned surgical team, the author has misinformed the public that our surgical team administered to her friend anesthesia for 7 hours instead of the industry practice of 2-3 hours, addictive pain killer to sedate patient without being truthful to the next of kin and also a procedure that lasted for about 7 hours. To underline the bankruptcy of understanding about medical operation and expose the mischief of the author, we clarify the foregoing issues seriatim.
    Firstly, on the duration of anesthesia, the clear, simple and logical practice is that the period of anesthesia is wholly determined by the period of surgery which extends beyond the period of surgery so that the patient does not feel pains and is only reversed after surgery. Thus, there is no industry practice of 2-3 hours anywhere as misinformed the public by the author. Secondly, pain killers are global standard drugs administered to patients after surgery to eliminate pains. Emphatically, pain killers are “freely prescribed” by surgeons to eliminate pains after surgery. So, the point of not being truthful to the next of kin before administering a pain killer was only a figment of imagination of the author, who being only a lawyer, has dabbled erroneously into medical practice and without passing through the medical school. Lastly, the duration of a procedure is determined by the nature of a particular cosmetic surgery. They vary in duration from a short to a long period, the long procedures taking up to 10 hours. Noteworthy, surgery commences with preliminaries which could take hours before the actual surgery.

    Malice Aforethought
    Importantly, the author was only on a malicious and mischievous voyage in the calculated bid to defame our highly rated surgical team. We would like to emphasise that, owing to our track record, the author recommended our establishment (LekkiHill Plastic Surgery) to the friend from UK. On the day of procedure on the author’s friend, the author without a medical background at that, wanted to dictate to us protocol and also desperately wanted to force her way into the theatre without adequate protocol. Our surgical team may allow a relation into the theatre to witness part of the procedure based on discretion, having regard to the overall safety of our patient. In the instant, our surgical team determined, based on the author’s general uncoscionable behaviour, that she would be a distraction if allowed into the theatre and thus refused her entry. Our surgical team also determined that she has an ulterior motive and her instant malicious article confirms our team’s judgment.

    Our Standard
    LekkiHill Plastic Surgery is rated “A” by our clients. Our surgical team comprises medical experts of international repute ably headed by a Medical Consultant Plastic Surgeon. This has enable us to provide cosmetic surgery with meticulousness and thoroughness recording highly unusual successes in all cases. Our results have broadened the frontiers of our clientele extending accross Africa, Europe and Asia. Every of our clients has a testimony to give. In regards to the author’s friend (who did breast augmentation, the regular BBL and thigh contouring), her testimony says it all as shown in her chats with our Head Surgical Team:

    Conclusion
    We would like to use this medium to caution the author to desist from and eschew future mischief, whether in relation to our establishment or others, and focus squarely on the substance of a legal issue without resorting to defaming anyone. More importantly, we would like to use this medium to assure our clients and the public that the system at LekkiHill Plastic Surgery places a very high premium on our clients. Their SAFETY and HAPPINESS is our priority and thus would not compromise them, no matter the pressure. Hence, our protocol is largely raised above certain practices. Our results speak for themselves.

    Othniel A. Ikpibako (PhD in view)
    Head, Valuedseed/LekkiHill Legal Team

    • RIP Sherry

      February 4, 2019 at 10:30 pm

      This devilish doctor has now killed 2 people and seriously deformed one other. God will continue to punish this poverty stricken law firm for even writing this nonsense.

      Dr Femi needs to be struck off. He is taking unnecessary risks with peoples life’s. Funniest thing is at no point in this article did the author mention any one by name. Yet they are quick to come here to write a disclaimer.

      I know the family of one of the deceased girls. No one deserves to die like this. Instead of Dr Femi taking responsibility for his actions he is chasing ghosts. Releasing and then deleting disclaimers on his Instagram page. He is making a mockery of Nigerian Medicine.

      Mrs Nancy otigba – Dr Femi I know you know who I am and God will punish you for what you are doing.

    • God Reigns

      February 5, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Wow. Dr Femi. After killing / injuring several women less than 6 weeks apart you have the balls to ask your lawyers to file court action. I pray lagos continues to expose you for all the harm you have done since you started practicing.

    • Nneka Ada

      February 5, 2019 at 10:30 pm

      She didn’t call any names, I guess your fake lawyers are coming here to give us information about a surgery that was confidential, this has proved her point further that your institution is one everyone should avoid.

    • Ade

      February 6, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      You want to sue for an article that did not mention your client. How foolish. Then you will be using big big grammar to try to convince us you have sense. Your hastyness to post this notice indicates guilt.

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