TORTIOUS LIABILITY OF MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS IN NIGERIA: AN APPRAISAL
Background of Study.
This is the entitled “Tortious Liability of Medical Practitioners in Nigeria: An Appraisal seeks to examine critically, the civil (tortuous) liability of health care providers such as, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, laboratory technologists and technicians, radiologists and radiographers, anesthetists, ward attendants, hospitals etc. In order to do this, the tortious liability of each group of personnel, is not going to be treated separately but rather as one body (medical
practitioners). In Nigeria, there is very little awareness that medical professional duties carry legal implications. The conduct of professional people, in the medical field, positive or negative, does not only affect their employers but impact directly on third parties. Consequently, liability will arise both against the employer and the employee professional, in the event of a breach of duty by the latter to act with reasonable care and diligence. The Law1 is, therefore, well settled that medical men owe a duty in tort, i.e., civil wrong to their patients, whether there is a contract with the patient or not. Unfortunately, this aspect of the law is not properly developed or again properly exploited in Nigeria especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, due to low level of awareness and cultural norms in which every mishap is attributed to God’s will2. Secondly, the cost of litigation is high and even with the undeveloped Legal Aid system in Nigeria, not everybody is eligible for legal aid. And lastly,
Doctor – patients relationship; evidence has shown that family doctors are less-likely to be sued as they are more likely to have a relationship of trust with their patients. Nevertheless the law on medical malpractice has come to stay in Nigeria even though litigation is on a small scale. Victims of medical malpractice have brought actions against medical practitioners in Negligence,3 in Criminal Law,4 and in trespass in Nigerian courts, especially in Southern Nigeria. It should be noted that this introductory chapter also discusses objective and scope of the thesis, the research methodology and the organizational layout of the research. Nigeria has been chosen to limit the scope and secondly, because the Author, is an employee of a Teaching Hospital These two circumstances present an ideal situation for the realization of the objectives envisaged by this research. 1.2