A medical practitioner says the best way to deal with medical negligence is to seek redress in the court of law.
Samuel Odoi believes that until that is done, health officials will continue to take advantage of the lack of accountability in the system and cause even more damage than has already occurred.
“There are certain health workers who are bringing the name of the profession into disrepute and I think it is time for the populace to start suing.
“When you sue, two things happen; the system improves, you get justice for the patient or the relation and the health worker who didn’t do what was supposed to be done gets punished. This also helps the health workers to act professionally,” Dr Odoi said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Monday.
His comments come after doctors and health officials received bashing on Friday following the death of a 70-year-old man at the Korle Bu Polyclinic.
The family of the deceased had rushed him to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital after he complained of having problems breathing.
A nurse at the facility directed the family to the Korle Bu Polyclinic where they were to get a referral letter before they could be attended to.
But the old man died just 30 minutes after arriving at the Polyclinic where nurses and a doctor tossed him around and left him unattended to.
Dr Odoi regrets the development but said the family can take the matter up and cause the health officials who should have acted but did not, punished.
“We wouldn’t hold brief for any health worker who is negligent on the job.”
But the health officials are not the only problem when it comes to health care delivery in Ghana.
Dr Odoi says much of the issues being faced in the health system has to do with the appalling state of the country’s emergency service system.
He said the incident on Thursday is “just the tip of the iceberg” and that many more of such have occurred and will continue to, until an improved emergency system is put in place.
Sharing his experience after working at the country’s largest referral hospital, Korle Bu, Dr Odoi made shocking revelations of how doctors have had to improvise and make the most of dire situations because of the lack of basic medical equipment.
“At the Korle Bu Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, there are only two theatres for caesarian sections…so at a point in time, if you have an emergency and two goes in, that’s it. It is very sad.”
He told the story of a pregnant woman who had to lose one of her twin babies because at the time there was the need to rush her in for surgery, all two theatres were occupied.
“There were doctors and residents available who could do a CS but there were only two theatres which were filled. We lost the second baby…the mother only sent home one baby.”
The problems in the emergency system of health care delivery, for Dr Odoi are more serious than what is known and until some drastic measures are taken, nothing will change.
“If we don’t put priority to our emergency services, then we are losing the battle,” he said calling on the public to “get angry and strike because there are no health equipment, the logistics are bad.”
Dr Odoi is not alone, another doctor who was on the show expressed same sentiments.
Agreeing with a suggestion by the Health Minister, Kwaku Angyenmang Manu that, emergency cases should be attended to as soon as they are reported, Dr Mawuena Hafeh, however, said the best service can only be given if the right systems are in place.
With an ambulance service that is almost non-existent, “If the person has had a cardiac arrest and comes to you in a place like Korle Bu, you would have to nurse outside the person in a taxi, because there are no beds.
“Assuming we can put the person on the floor and start CPR, do you think people’s relatives will be okay to see CPR done on the floor,” he queried.
For Dr Hafeh, even after that is done, maintaining the life that has been saved is a different issue altogether, stressing like his counterpart, that there are more problems in the health sector than the public is aware of.
He said if the adequate system is put in place, it will not be the duty of the doctor to call hospitals in search of a bed for patients because “It is not the work of the doctor to do administrative work.”