For long decades, it has been the practice for hospital management in Nigeria to demand a written permission from the police before victims of gun shot injuries are treated no matter how life-threatening the condition of the victim is.
Ironically there’s no law in Nigeria mandating hospitals not to offer medical care to gun shot victims without police authorisation, but standard practice of the unethical Nigerian police has always been to brand hospitals or doctors who treat patients with gun injuries as part of a criminal syndicate who render help to criminals if they didn’t obtain police permission. Thus the practice and convention for doctors to reject dying victims of gun shot injuries began. Police usually give written permission after collecting a fixed sum from victim’s family.
Often times patients died before obtaining the permit…. but all that seems to be gone with the legislative fiat now compelling hospitals to mandatorily care for gun shot victims WITHOUT POLICE CLEARANCE. But are hospitals willing to comply or are old habits refusing to die?
Now it is the police who are seeking to uphold a law they have helped distort for decades as doctors have grown accustomed to convention.
The Lagos State Police Command, on Wednesday, warned hospital authorities against the rejection of gunshot victims or the attitude of asking for Police report before treatment.
A press statement signed by the Command’s spokesman, Superintendent of Police Chike Oti, said the Command repeated the warning following a report that one hospital in Ikeja rejected a gunshot victim.
“A senior engineer with an information and communications technology company, Mr. Adebayo Akinwunmi, was shot and wounded by armed robbers in his house at Ofada-Mokoloki, Ogun State.
“He was taken to a hospital in Ikeja for treatment, but was allegedly refused admission on the grounds that there was no Police report.
“The Command considers the action of the hospital as cruel; perhaps, an indication that the hospital management may be ignorant of the “Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017.
“In the light of this development, the Command wishes to inform all medical practitioners in Lagos State that the Act demands that every hospital in Nigeria, whether public or private, shall accept or receive for immediate and adequate treatment with or without Police clearance any person with gunshot wounds.”
The Act, however, requires the hospital treating such a patient to report the fact to the nearest Police station within two hours of the commencement of treatment.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, has directed all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in the state to henceforth prosecute any medical practitioners who reject gunshot victims for reasons of no Police report.
“Medical doctors should note that the Act recommends a five-year-jail term for any person, hospital or authority, who stands by or omits to do his bit, which results in the unnecessary death of any person with bullet wounds,” the statement read.