An Agenda for Improving Legal Claims for Medical Malpractice in Nigeria

  •  Uwakwe Abugu    
  •  Dike C. Obalum    


The law and ethics of medical practice enjoy a relatively universal appeal, and speak the same language in different jurisdictions. This is due mainly to the fact that the practice of modern orthodox medicine is traceable to the Greek philosopher, Hippocrates (father of modern medicine) who brought scientific rationalization into medical practice, thus exploding the hitherto garb of metaphysics and Esoterism that beclouded the practice. The various works of the World medical Association in developing and disseminating ethical rules and standards of practice further strengthened the universal character of medical ethics. Accordingly, the right of patients and the duties of medical practitioners remain the same all over the world. But the extent to which these rights and duties are asserted, observed and enforced vary significantly among jurisdictions. Recent empirical investigation shows that in Nigeria only about 1.1% of all medical malpractice cases are enforced through legal action. This paper gives an analysis of the present state of medical practice in Nigeria in terms of the basic care exhibited by medical practitioners, the impression of patients about such care and other elementary requirements of doctor-patient relationship. It draws from a work which concludes that while the level of care is abysmally low leading to high level of malpractice, the level of legal claims is even lower. The paper proceeds to set out some legal and administrative remedial measures that could be taken to improve the almost non-existent claims against practitioners involved in medical malpractice in Nigeria.

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