Negligence: Medical Director Jailed for Endangering Life of 16-year-old Patient

Wale Igbintade

Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos High court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square has sentenced a medical doctor, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand Orji, to one year imprisonment for causing grievous harm, negligence and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.

Orji, who is the Medical Director of Excel Medical Centre Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, was found guilty on four of the six counts charge,  which are  counts 2, 3, 4, and 6.

However, he was  discharged on counts 1 and 5 respectfully. The convict was initially arraigned alongside his wife Dr (Mrs) Ifeayinwa Grace Orji, but his wife  was discharged and acquitted following an application by the Director of Public Production that the Lagos State government wishes to discontinue the case against her.

Delivering judgement, Justice Akintoye held that the prosecution was able to established the essential ingredients of the offence of breach of duty, care and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.

The court further held that the defendant’s action falls below what is reasonably expected of a medical doctor.

Justice Akintoye held: “It my opinion that the Defendant committed a breach of duty as a medical practitioner, when he willfully refused to remove the Plaster of Paris (POP) cast on the patient left leg despite complaints of severe pains which thereby resulted in a compartment syndrome.”

The court stated that the convict applied POP cast on PW 10’ leg using none medical staff, and without carrying out an x-ray to identify the level of injury.

Justice Akintoye further stated that Dr Orji did not obtain consent from the mother of the patient, who was in the hospital as at the time the POP was applied.

The court held: “The Defendant had undertaken to carry out the procedure and give medical treatment to PW 10 (patient), which turned out to be injurious to his health.

“The prosecution has been able to establish essential ingredients of the offences of breach of duty. I find that the prosecution has established essential ingredients in counts 2, 3, 4, and 6. The prosecution has therefore proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.

“Consequently, on counts one and five, the defendant, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand Orji is thereby found not guilty. On count two, three, four and six, I find him guilty and he is accordingly convicted. This is the judgement of the court”

In his plea of allocutus, the Defendant’s lawyer, Ajibola Ariba urged the court to temper justice with mercy, adding that the defendant, being a first offender, has never been convict for any crime in the past.

He stated that the  defendant was born in 1958, and advanced in age. He urged the court to consider an option of fine.

After his plea for mercy, Justice Akintoye held: “I have listened to your  plea for leniency  on behalf of the defendant, that the defendant is a first time offender. Therefore, the defendant, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand Orji is hereby convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment each, on counts two, three, four and six.

However, the judge stated that the  sentence will run concurrently.

According to the prosecution, the defendant on July 26, 2018, at their hospital fixed a POP cast too tightly on  a 16-year-old Ezi-Ashi’s leg, which caused him grievous harm.

The victim complained of discomfort and asked that the POP be relaxed, but the defendants allegedly refused, which resulted in the teenager becoming unconscious and he was subsequently rushed to the Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos, where he was operated upon.

At the Reddington Hospital, it was discovered that the defendant had sawed off the POP and allegedly damaged the muscles in the lower part of the boy’s leg, foot and toes with wide open sores that were at the initial stage of becoming ‘compartmentalised’.

The prosecutor, Babatunde Sunmonu, said the victim underwent four major surgeries and following his critical condition, two orthopaedic surgeons from the United States of America extracted the dead muscles from the leg, adding that it was a major struggle to save the boy’s life as he had to be flown to the United States for further attention.

He stated that the defendant caused grievous harm on the 16-year-old boy, by fixing a POP cast too tight on his leg without his consent nor that of his parents.

The prosecutor also said that the  convict who was not orthopedic specialists, recklessly administered orthopedic medical treatment to the minor, from his upper thigh to his toes and deliberately refused to remove the said POP when requested to do so.

He said that the defendants deliberately removed the POP in a manner that put the life of the boy at risk.

He added that the defendants unlawfully inflicted wound to the left leg of the complainant “when they lacerated his toes with a saw blade and concealed the act”.

The offence committed is punishable under Sections 230, 245, 251 and 252 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Related Articles