Patients in government hospitals in Abuja complain that available doctors make wrong prescriptions that are not related to their ailments
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Oct. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
WHEN Hilda Idelokpe walked into the Nyanya general hospital in Abuja, about four months ago, she was sure of getting a final solution to an ailment that had defied domestic remedy for almost two weeks. After waiting on a long queue with other patients at the hospital for almost two hours, she finally got the chance to see the doctor on duty that day.
But rather than pacify her, the meeting with the doctor raised her fears that the ailment may be more serious than she had thought. “When I told the doctor what was wrong with me, I thought he was going to recommend that I undergo laboratory test to be sure. Instead, he gave me some drugs and asked me to go home.” After about three days of taking the drugs without any improvement, Idelokpe returned to the hospital to report to the doctor. But she met another doctor who, like the first one prescribed another dose of drugs.
“It was as if the man was eager to see me leave his office. When I told him about the previous doctor and the drugs he gave me, he still insisted that I buy the ones he prescribed.” Like in the first case, Idelokpe’s condition did not improve. She was still throwing up and feeling dizzy like she felt before taking the drugs.
Frustrated by the situation, Idelokpe decided to see a doctor in a private hospital. After explaining to the doctor, he promptly recommended a test. “After my explanation, the doctor said I may be pregnant but he still insisted that I go for a test. When the result came out, I discovered I was two months pregnant. He gave me some drugs and told me to begin preparations for my ante-natal treatments”.
Chidiebere Olise’s experience at the Kuje general hospital was similar to that of Idelokpe. He had gone to the hospital to seek medical solution for a growth on his right eye. Like in the case with Idelokpe, the meeting with the doctor in the hospital was very brief. Rather than prescribe some drugs, the doctor sent him to the heart to heart centre in the hospital for a HIV test. “I was very surprised when he handed me a slip to go to the heart to heart centre but I said nothing. I have not been to that hospital before and so I assumed that the people in charge of the eye treatment shared the same facility with the heart to heart people. When I got there, the lady collected the slip and asked me if I had done HIV test before I got angry and walked out of the place.”
When Olise returned to the doctor to ask why he sent him to do a HIV test when he complained about a growth in the eye, the doctor apologised and referred him to see an optician at the government hospital in Asokoro. But like Idelokpe, Olise did not go to the hospital; he sought treatment in a private hospital where the doctor recommended some drugs that cured the ailment within a few days.
The experiences of Olise and Idelokpe may sound strange but they paint a vivid picture of what transpires in some government owned hospitals in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. Contrary to the long held belief that government owned hospitals are better than privately owned ones, the reverse now appears to be the case.
Like Idelokpe and Olise, those who go to government hospitals seeking treatment for various ailments end up disappointed and run back to the privately owned hospitals where they have to pay more to get commensurate treatment. Overwhelmed by the influx of patients seeking medical attention, doctors in government hospitals attend to patients ‘quickly’ and in the process make some mistakes.
When Realnews, visited the Nyanya general hospital where Idelokpe was wrongly diagnosed, there were about 70 patients waiting to see the two doctors on duty. The Realnews reporter observed that those who went into the consultation room came out in less than three minutes holding a prescription slip and asking other patients for direction to the hospital’s pharmacy.
As the reporter sat to observe what was going on in the outpatient ward, he noticed that a young man who later identified himself as James Adyani. Adyani was writhing in pains as a waited for his turn to see the doctor. When he finally went in, he came out after about three minutes holding the same prescription slip as those who went in before him and walked towards the pharmacy. The reporter followed him and asked to know what the doctor told him. Although he was initially hesitant, Adyani said the doctor asked him what was wrong with him. As he was speaking, he said the doctor scribbled on the note before him. “I thought he was going to examine me but he didn’t do anything like that. He just gave me this note after I told him how I was feeling and he asked me to go to the pharmacy.”
Favour Otobo, another patient who came out of the doctor’s office on the same day told Realnews that the doctors in the hospital “attended to people in hurry”. According to her, the doctors barely even have time to listen the patients. “They talk to you as if they are not happy doing their jobs. Some of them even talk without raising their eyes to see how you look. I have been here a couple of times and the doctors all behave in the same way”.
Jonah Kamshi was more comical in his description of the doctors. Aside from referring to them as “trial and error” experts who just recommend drugs without actually knowing what is wrong with the patient, he added that many of them prescribe wrong treatments to patients in order to compel them to visit their own private hospitals. “Many of doctors who work in these government hospitals are just making money from the government without doing anything. They continue to prescribe wrong treatments so that patients will lose faith in the government hospital and visit privately owned ones where some of them are consultants. I know doctors who work in government hospitals and also own private hospitals.”
When Realnews sought the views of one of the doctors at the Nyanya general hospital, he refused to give his name and said he was not authorised to talk to journalists. He directed the reporter to Isreal Tonju, the hospital’s medical director, who was also not available to speak.
However, Kadijat Ibrahim, a nurse at the hospital, said “the doctors are always not happy because they claim that they work too much.” She also disclosed that because the hospital does not have enough doctors to attend to all the patients, the ones on duty have to be very brief with the patients. “As you can see, there are a lot of patients here and it will be very impossible for the two doctors on duty to attend to everybody. If they spend too much time on a particular patient, others will complain. That is why the doctors are usually very fast with the patients,” Ibrahim said.