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Court Slams N10M Damages Against Delta State Hospitals Management Board, Others Over Death Of Pregnant Woman

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The High Court of Justice, sitting at Otor-Udu, Delta State and presided over by Hon. Justice C. E. Achilefu, (Mrs.) has awarded the sum of N10 Million Naira (N10, 000, 000) as damages against the Delta State Hospitals Management Board and a cost of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000.00) over a case of medical negligence that claimed the life of one Mrs. Elo Joseph and her baby on the 25th day of November, 2012.

The suit with No: OUHC/23/2013 Mr. Joseph Onome Vs. Delta State Hospitals Management Board & four others was filed at the Registry of the High Court, Otor-Udu on the 22nd day of February, 2013 by Mr. Joseph Onome, husband to late Mrs. Elo Joseph, who was then an expectant mother, aged 29 years.

After years of legal fireworks in Court, Justice Achilefu in her judgment delivered, struck out the name of Dr. Tuoyo Eda as 2nd Defendant and went ahead to award the sum of N10 Million and a cost of N100,000.00 against the Delta State Hospitals Management Baord as 1st Defendant, Dr. Nwabua as 3rd Defendant, Dr. Mike Ozoemena as 4th Defendant and the Attorney General, Delta State as 5th Defendant in favour of Mr. Joseph Onome, aged 51 years who lost his pregnant wife, Mrs. Elo Joseph and baby on the 25th day of November, 2012 owing to the unexplained absence of members of the Obstetric team on call who were supposed to be on duty at the Central Hospital, Ughelli at the time the deceased was referred there for expert management from General Hospital, Otu-Jeremi.

Late Mrs. Joseph had on the 4th day of February, 2012 registered at the General Hospital, Otu-Jeremi for antenatal treatment, which she regularly attended at intervals on appointment until the 25th day of November, 2012 when she commenced signs of labour at about 1:20am.

We gathered that Mr. Joseph Onome upon rushing his wife, Mrs. Elo Joseph to the General Hospital, Otu-Jeremi discovered to his dismay that there was only one nurse in the entire facility without a Doctor to attend to his said wife.

Oasis Magazine (OM) also gathered that the following day, a nurse on duty at the General Hospital, Otu-Jeremi called Mr. Joseph Onome on phone to inform him that his wife was bleeding and upon his arrival was given a referral letter by a Doctor to the Obstetric team on call at the Central Hospital, Ughelli.

An hour later when Joseph arrived with his wife at the Central Hospital, Ughelli, to his surprise was told by an Houseman on duty at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Ward that members of the Obstetric team on call who were supposed to be on duty at the said Hospital which had two medical consultants and two medical officers had all gone for weekend.

From the Central Hospital, Ughelli, Mrs. Elo Joseph who had laboured for close to Eight hours and whose bleeding condition had become worse was referred to a private clinic in Ughelli by the said Houseman where she had a stillbirth and later died of severe bleeding.

The death of Mrs. Elo Joseph and her baby would have been avoided, if members of the Obstetric team on call at the Central Hospital, Ughelli had adequately and professionally responded promptly to the health condition of the late Mrs. Elo Joseph.

The Centre for the Vulnerable and Underprivileged (Centrep) who took up the above public interest suit have also concluded arrangements for the erring Doctors to face a disciplinary action before the Dental and Clinical Disciplinary Committee in Abuja in a bid to ensure that the license of the said Doctors are withdrawn, as they were not licensed to kill but to save human lives.

According to Centrep, “the above public interest suit which is geared towards developing our human rights culture would help to educate medical practitioners in all public hospitals to respect human lives and to carry out their jobs with all seriousness as the duty of care owed their patients are that of the highest professional standard.”

By Daniel Dafe

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