Hit-and-run accident victim Omotola Akinsanya, 31, was said to have begged her relations to take her away from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), where she was receiving treatment. Perhaps, she feared that she would die if she remained there.
Sadly, she died at the hospital on June 9, which raised serious questions about the quality of care she had received there, the competence of its personnel, and its operational and professional standards, among others.
She was, on May 4, hit by a vehicle driven by a Lebanese, John Greg, who was allegedly speeding and driving against the traffic on Sanusi Fafunwa Road, Victoria Island, Lagos. The alleged hit-and-run driver was reported to have been rearrested after Omotola died. He was initially granted bail by a court, and will now face amended charges. The public expects justice.
A graduate of Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Omotola was said to have been preparing to travel to the UK to start a job. The head of her family, Venerable Folarin Shobo, who accused LASUTH of unprofessionalism, alleged that she was neglected in the course of her treatment at the hospital. He said: “After 11 days in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), she was moved to orthopaedic ward where the injury was exposed to infections due to lack of diligent medical treatment. The girl was appealing to us to move her out of LASUTH because she had been neglected.”
After her leg was amputated on June 4, he added, there was a plan to raise funds and fly her abroad. He said her treatment at LASUTH had cost “over N11m,” arguing that the high cost was abnormal at a public hospital. He observed that the medical bill could be likened to that of private hospitals, “whereas we were not enjoying the services.”
It is alarming that people regularly accuse LASUTH of negligence and exploitation. For instance, about seven months ago, in December 2021, a Lagos-based businesswoman, Mrs Agatha Aso, had alleged that the hospital’s negligence led to the death of her husband who was shot by robbers.
In the same month, Nollywood actress Dorcas Fapson had criticised the hospital after her mother, step-sister and uncle died there. She posted on social media: “Only go to LASUTH, Ikeja, if you want to die.”
It is a positive move that LASUTH launched ‘Project Eagle’ in March to improve its services. Its Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, listed the facets of the project, including active space/bed management policies, commencement of an adverse report register and management system, more intensive and regular staff training and retraining, and advocacy to reduce the influx of non-tertiary patients into LASUTH. The hospital faces regular public criticism on these issues.
Other aspects of the project are automation, international accreditation, and formalising collaboration with highbrow private hospitals in Lagos.
Importantly, he said efforts were on-going to improve on the hospital’s adverse report register to enhance processes and systems for immediate and long-term solutions to minimise recurrence of adverse events.
This pursuit of improvement suggests that the hospital is conscious of its negative public image, and wants to change it.
But there are other encouraging stories about LASUTH that give the impression that the hospital could be overwhelmed by all manner of people desirous of its services. This is why we commend its decision to reduce the influx of non-tertiary patients into the hospital. As a teaching hospital, it is a tertiary hospital which should cater to the needs of people in dire need of such services. Minor ailments should be handled at the lower level hospitals in the state.
It is however reassuring that the hospital management has set up a panel to investigate the death. Lagos State Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi is also reported to be interested in the probe. Was Omotola’s death preventable? Did the conditions she faced at LASUTH contribute to her death? These are clear questions that demand clear answers.
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