FCCPC probes alleged patients’ rights violations, deaths in Lagos, Ogun hospitals

*The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says relatives and friends of the deceased have alleged mismanagement, including failure of professional ethics as well as patient care/customer service standards as timely responses to requests

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Following alleged failure of professional standards and patient care/customer service standards including timely responses to requests, and pursuant to Sections 17(a), (e), (h), (l), (s), (t), (y) of Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPA), the regulatory agency is set to investigate unfortunate deaths of patients in both Lagis and Ogun States.

Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC)/ Chief Executive of FCCPC, in a statement Monday, May 10, 2021, said between Friday, May 7 and Sunday, May 9 this year, the Commission learnt about the unfortunate deaths of Mrs. Peju Ugboma after a surgical/medical procedure at Premier Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos State.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health

The agency also noted the sad death of Ms. Omolara Omoyajowo after receiving care at Beachland Specialist Hospital, Arepo, Ogun State, South-West Nigeria.

Mr. Irukera, in the statement titled, “Possible Violation(s) Of Patient/Consumer Rights Under The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act; And Extant Laws In Providing Medical Attention/Urgent Care”, explained that in respect of late Mrs. Ugboma, publicly available information suggests that she was admitted at Premier Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos State, Thursday, April 22 to undergo what appeared to be an elective procedure on Friday, April 23.

“The information also implies that the procedure appeared to be uneventful, and the patient survived the operation,” the FCCPC Chief said.

He however, noted that “subsequent to the procedure, complications may have arisen.  Premier continued management, including intensive care. The patient invariably deteriorated.”

On Sunday, April 25, 2021, Irukera stated, a decision was made to transfer the patient for further care and management to Evercare Hospital, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

She was transferred accordingly, but Mrs. Ugboma ultimately died in the afternoon of Sunday, April 25.

According to him, late Ms. Omoyajowo was reportedly admitted at Beachland Specialist Hospital in Arepo, Ogun State, Wednesday May 5, where she was receiving medical attention.

Nonetheless, her condition appeared to deteriorate, and the hospital decided that the patient needed to be transferred to a teaching hospital in Lagos State.

She was thereafter transferred, but Ms. Omayajowo was declared dead on arrival at the next medical facility Thursday, May 6.

The FCCPC stated that in both cases, relatives and friends have alleged mismanagement, including failure of professional standards as well as patient care/customer service standards as timely responses to requests.

Irukera, therefore, noted that the Commission in 2018, in collaboration with multiple healthcare professional associations, led by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), and Federal Ministry of Health promoted, created, and secured the adoption of the Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR).

The rights enshrined therein are provider obligations that otherwise exist in other enforceable instruments/codes governing healthcare delivery, said he.

The FCCPC EVC/Chief Executive also referenced the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) mandating the Commission to enforce “any enactment with respect to the protection of consumers, conduct investigations into matters related to consumer protection; ensure consumer interests receive due consideration, and provide redress to obnoxious practices; ensure service providers comply with local and international standards of safe service delivery” Section 17(a), (e), (s) and (y).

Irukera clarified that the Commission does not investigate or evaluate conduct to determine professionalism, ethics or violation of professional/ethical codes neither does it make determinations with respect to the professionalism or adopted procedures of qualified and authorised professionals.

He, however, emphasised the Commission “investigates and considers whether service providers sufficiently respect rights of consumers and applicable standards of care in compliance with those rights, including providing redress or remedies for injured consumers.”

The Commission, therefore, stated that the “initial information gathered is sufficient for the Commission to open an active investigation into these cases.

“As such, the Commission has today (Tuesday, May 10) issued Notices of Commencement of Investigation & Summons to Produce (NCISP) to relevant persons/entities.”

According to the EVC/Chief Executive, the FCCPC is also communicating with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) “to expand engagement to the extent that any pertinent conduct may be otherwise unprofessional and, or may be subject of any disciplinary process (if applicable).”

The Commission also invites information from the public that may assist in the investigation, including where same is not directly applicable to these incidents, but potentially relevant to a robust and more meaningful inquiry into the subject matter or similar/ancillary occurrences with respect to the parties identified in, or relevant to these investigations.

It requests that such information be sent electronically to: publicinquiry@fccpc.gov.ng.

“Considering the sensitivity of these sad events, and in respect and deference to families/affected persons or reputation of both professionals and facilities, the Commission advises candor and restraint in discussions and pronouncements about the occurrence and investigation,” said Irukera.

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