How Safe Is Your Doctor’s Diagnosis?

Too many young people are dying (a disproportionate number linked to cancer, but more on this another time), and there is a worrisome recurring theme in the circumstances surrounding these deaths.

As entrepreneurs, health is wealth. Literally. For this reason, regular health checks, diet, and exercise are a must. On average, an entrepreneur works 12-16 hour shifts. He has to build his business, serving as driver, accountant, HR manager, and CEO. Clearly, any downtime due to ill-health means a loss of income.

ekoconnect.netHow Safe is Your Doctor's Diagnosis?

So what is this recurring theme which threatens the work-life balance of entrepreneurs especially in Lagos? Doctors who diagnose illnesses wrongly. Out of sheer incompetence, impunity, and in some instances, outright meanness.

Regardless, too many young people have lost their lives or limbs because of wrong diagnosis.

There are 3 broad reasons for the increased rate of misdiagnosis in the country. Poor training is the first of them. It is the fallout of the lack of skilled teachers and trainers in the universities and medical schools.

The second reason has to do with the our approach to doctors, medical workers, and people in authority generally. Nigerians are timid in the face of authority. Real or imagined. From policemen to soldiers, to university lecturers, doctors, and of course politicians.

God’s diagnosis & prognosis

And so people who should be held accountable for their deeds and misdeeds are “forgiven”. In the case of doctors, it is not unusual for families of victims to declare “it is the will of God”. Afterall, if God did not want it to happen, then it wouldn’t. So the trend grows. From wrongly diagnosed amputations, healthy organs being removed, the stories are legion. And they are sad.

The third and even more sinister reason noted for the growth of misdiagnosis in the country, is purely commercial. Doctors in the nefarious business of organ trade. Healthy organs are ‘harvested’ from unsuspecting patients by medical officers for sale to a growing network of buyers.

Unhealthy medical collabos

The unholy alliance between doctors and pharmacies is a little less gruesome. To boost the business of a partner pharmacy, some doctors have been accused of misdiagnosing ailments so as to sell expensive medicines and treatments to patients.

Many hospitals on the National Health Insurance Scheme, offer inferior drugs to patients on insurance, while selling genuine and more expensive medication to patients who pay cash. One of the major reasons for this is the settlement period between hospitals and their insurance partners. The length of time is considered detrimental to business by participating hospitals.

Hope For The Hopeless?

We clearly must now take our health in our hands. Exercise, diet; moderation in ALL things, including work hours must be the watchword. While the more successful amongst us can afford the medical pilgrimages to India and Germany and the UK and US, the rest of us must make do with what we have locally.

But before we give in and start booking weekly visits to prayer warriors and herbalists and other charlatans, it is important that we educate ourselves a little more.

Yes, Google typically (mis)diagnoses headaches as brain tumours. Yet entrepreneurs can improve their outcomes at the hospital by educating themselves more. Understand the implications of drug interactions, sleep deprivation and stress management. Even the simple interpretations of symptoms.

Sue. Escalate cases of negligence and incompetence. Go to court. Go to the Press. Go to Linda! Maybe, the threat of sanctions and negative exposure may force our doctors to be a little more circumspect in their treatment of patients.

Monitor weight, check blood pressure as often as possible, and every year, check blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and other vitals.

Unfortunately, the doctors and medical personnel we are charging with murder perform these checks!

In the final analysis, it seems our hope really does lie in God’s hands. At least for the foreseeable future.

Ifeanyi Maduka

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