DUTY OF CARE: ITS IMPLICATIONS TO THE MEDICAL PROFESSION IN NIGERIA. A RESEARCH PROJECT TOPICS ON LAW
Medical practice has attained sufficient status to the extent that principles of law that are relevant to Medical Practice can now be examined under the concept of Medical Law. Medical law can therefore be described as the branch
of law dealing with Medical Practice or the Medical Profession.1
The functions of Medical Law therefore relates to identification of issues
relating to or regulating the practice of Medicine 2. The essence of Medical Law or the kind of conduct required of a Medical Practitioner can be determined from the Oath of Hippocrates. This is a simple and modern declaration which a Medical practitioner makes and which he must adhere to in practice. It is meant to enable Medical and Dental Practitioners maintain a universally acceptable professional standards of practice as well as meet the
1 Yakubu J.A, Medical Law in Nigeria, (Demyaxs Press Ltd),2002, Pg 1.
demands of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria with regards to ethics
of a professional practice 3.
It is of importance to note that prior to the advent of the British to Nigeria, the traditional method of healing was the predominant practice. However, with the advent of the British as Nigeria’s colonial over lord, came the missionaries who not only took care of the spiritual well-being of Nigerians but also took interest in the health of the people. Maternity homes and dispensaries were
It should be pointed out that our traditional medicine is becoming more recognized in Nigeria. There is no specific law regulating traditional medicine beyond the general principles relating to liability in Criminal law, the law of
Torts and the law of Contract 5.
The earliest indigenous medical practitioners were trained in British. Subsequently several other indigenous people travelled to various countries in
the world for the purpose of acquiring education relating to medical practice 6
3 (Ibid)@ p.3
4 Ibid @ p.3
5 Ibid @ p.3
6 Ibid @ pg 4.
For a person to practice medicine, he must be professionally qualified through the process of University education and in accordance with the requirements of minimum standard requisite for attainment of this status. The process must be
universally recognized & accepted 7. The predominant Statute regulating
medical practice in Nigeria is the Medical and Dental practitioner Act 8 which provides all the necessary framework for the establishment of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria for the purpose of registration of medical practitioners and Dental Surgeons and to provide for a disciplinary tribunal for the discipline of members.
The functions and establishment of the Dental and Medical Council of Nigeria will be discussed in the course of this Essay.
Apart from the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, a Medical Practitioner may also be liable criminally and may be asked to pay damages by way of civil remedy where it is discovered that the act or omission of the medical practitioner falls below expectation. Indeed in DENLOYE V MEDICAL