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LUTH absolves medical personnel of negligence in patient’s death


Lagos University Teaching Hospital

Lagos University Teaching Hospital

The management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), has denied the allegation of negligence in the death of one of its patients, Mrs. Ngozi Udebu, who was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago.

A preliminary autopsy report on the late Udebu, contained in a statement made available to The Guardian by the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Kelechi Otuneme, explained that the independent panel didn’t find any doctor or nurse culpable of neglect. “The autopsy preliminary report demonstrated evidence of asphyxia though no foreign body or evidence of strangulation was found.”

Newspapers and social media reports had suggested that Udebu died from negligence or rather medical error from the nurses and doctors on duty, but the autopsy noted: “Mrs. Ngozi Udebu was a patient in our hospital having been admitted on March 26, 2016 and died about 51 hours later. She had presented abdominal pain from her monthly menstrual periods shortly after 40 days of religious fasting.

“She had taken an overdose of Piroxicam (50mg thrice daily for two days) a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller, which is known to be associated with side effects of inflammation or ulceration of the stomach even at a regular dose. She was admitted, seen by the medical team including an experienced consultant physician. She was commenced on medications for peptic ulcers or dyspepsia after ultrasound scans and other tests. She was admitted to the medical wards within 24 hours of presentation and monitored by the medical personnel (doctors and nurses).

“Few hours to her demise, she started to have difficulty breathing. She was placed on oxygen therapy until her demise. While making the rounds to see how the patients fared in the night, the nurse on duty noticed she had stopped breathing and attempts to resuscitate her failed.

“There was no distress call by the patient, other patients or any other person around her in the ward prior to her sudden death. In view of the strange and sudden death of our patient, the managing team immediately requested for an autopsy to unravel the immediate and remote causes of her demise as is standard procedure practised in such cases of unusual death.

“The autopsy preliminary report demonstrated evidence of asphyxia, though no foreign body or evidence of strangulation was found. Further specialised histology report obtained later confirmed fluid in the terminal air passages, which support aspiration of food, fluids or secretions.

“The stomach was inflamed but not actively bleeding or perforated which is not surprising, considering that she was already on anti-peptic ulcer therapy. We can understand why the layman may be confounded by the apparent disparity of the admitting diagnosis and the final pathological diagnosis.”

Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, told The Guardian: “After her death, attempts by the investigative panel to speak to the husband (who had earlier affirmed he would attend the hearing) failed and he informed us that all he wanted to say was in the news media.

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