Medical Negligence: Court Sentences Doctor To One Year Jail Term
The Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square has sentenced a medical Doctor, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand Orji, to one-year imprisonment for causing grievous harm, negligence, and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye found Dr. Orji guilty on 4 of the 6 counts for which he was charged.
In the charge filed by the Lagos State Government, Dr. Orji who is the Medical Director of Excel Medical Centre Dolphin Estate was initially arraigned alongside his wife, Dr. (Mrs) Ifeayinwa Grace Orji.
In the particulars of the offence, the defendants in July 2018, at their medical center, acted in a reckless and negligent manner when they fixed a Plaster of Paris cast too tightly on the leg of the minor which caused him grievous harm.
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The minor, a young Nigerian aspiring to play basketball in the United States of America had his career cut short by the incident which occurred when he came to Nigeria for a holiday.
In her judgment, Justice Akintoye discharged and acquitted Dr. Mrs Orji, following an application by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, which discontinued the case against her.
But the court held that the Prosecution had been able to establish against her husband, the essential ingredients of the offence of breach of duty, care, and endangering the life of the 16-year-old patient.
The court further held that the defendant’s action falls below what is reasonably expected of a medical doctor.
Justice Akintoye held “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 a Plaster of Paris (POP) cast on the patient’s leg using a none medical staff, and without carrying out an x-ray to identify the level of injury.
Justice Akintoye further stated that Dr. Orji did not obtain the consent of the mother of the patient, who was in the hospital at the time the POP was done.
The court held, “The prosecution has been able to establish essential ingredients of the offences of breach of duty. I find that the prosecution has established essential ingredients in courts 2, 3, 4, and 6. The prosecution has therefore proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Consequently, on counts 1 and 5, the defendant, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand 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”
In his plea of allocutus, the defendant’s lawyer, Ajibola Ariba, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, adding that the defendant is a first offender who has never been convicted for any crime in the past.
He also told that the defendant who was born in 1958, was advanced in age. He urged the court to consider the option of a fine.
After his plea for mercy, Justice Akintoye held, “I have listened to the plea for leniency on behalf of the defendant, that the defendant is a first-time offender. therefore, the defendant, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand Orji is hereby convicted and sentenced to one-year imprisonment each, on counts two, three, four, and six.”
However, the judge stated that the sentence will run concurrently.