NGO seeks safe spaces for health workers to report medical negligence

An NGO, Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC), has called for safe environment for health workers to report negligence of duty.

Mrs Chika Offor, the CEO of VNDC, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Abuja.

She spoke on the sidelines of alleged negligence in handling the case of Ms Greatness Olorunfemi, who was pushed out of a moving vehicle by suspected criminals.

NAN reports that sympathisers rushed the victim to Maitama District Hospital, but she did not get medical assistance until she died.

Offor said that the government can create a safe environment for healthcare workers to report negligence of duty and misconduct without fear of retaliation.

“We must encourage and protect whistleblowers who come forward with information about negligent practices.

“This will help to expose and address systemic issues within the healthcare system,” she said.

Health workers, she said, often fear retaliation or negative consequences for reporting negligence, such as job loss or damage to their professional reputation.

“There is lack of robust legal protection for whistleblowers, making it risky for health workers to come forward,” she said.

She said that reporting negligence could involve navigating complex and time-consuming bureaucratic processes, which discouraged some health workers from reporting incidents.

Offor said there could be peer pressure or institutional cultures that discouraged reporting, with a prevailing “code of silence.”

“Inadequate confidential reporting mechanisms often hindered health workers’ ability to report negligence discreetly.

“Health workers may not have been adequately trained in recognising and reporting negligence.

“ High workloads and understaffing could limit the time and energy available for health workers to report incidents.

“Some health workers might not even be aware of the processes or channels available for reporting negligence,” she said.

She urged Nigerians to raise awareness on medical negligence.

This, she said, can be done through social media campaigns, community discussions, and public forums.

She encouraged them to share their stories and experiences to highlight the impact of negligence on them and the healthcare system.

“We have to encourage open dialogue and engagement with healthcare providers. This can be done through town hall meetings, patient feedback mechanisms, and regular interactions with hospital management.

“This will encourage patients and their families to speak up about their experiences and concerns,” she advised.

She also called for stronger regulatory bodies that oversee the healthcare sector.

She called for increased investment in healthcare infrastructure and resources.

She called on the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other relevant agencies to educate Nigerians on their rights and responsibilities in healthcare settings.

“People must be encouraged to be active participants in their own care, ask questions, and report any signs of negligence.

”They must be empowered to demand quality care and hold healthcare providers accountable.

“The ministry should work with civil society organisations that focus on healthcare advocacy. Join forces to amplify the voices of patients, share resources, and coordinate efforts to address negligence in hospitals,” she said.

She encouraged Nigerians to engage with policymakers to advocate for policy reforms that prioritise patient safety and address negligence in hospitals.

NAN reports that the FCT Administration (FCTA) set up an investigative panel in Abuja to investigate the death of late Olorunfemi.

Mandate Secretary of the Health and Environment Services Secretariat at the FCTA, Dr Dolapo Fasawe, said the panel, made up of representatives of the Nigerian Police and other stakeholders, would ensure that justice is served.

Fasawe explained that at a meeting with the management of the hospital, information received showed that the criminals shoved the victim, out of the moving vehicle on Sept. 26.

She added that a “Good Samaritan” took the deceased to the hospital at 8:35 p.m., but she died due to alleged negligence of the medical team at the hospital.

Responding, the Medical Director, Dr Imuentinyan Igbinovia, denied the allegation and said the victim was brought in dead.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria