By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
Worried by persistent cases of healthcare providers rejecting gunshot victims and other trauma patients on pretext of requiring a police report, Lagos State Government has warned that any hospital found engaging in such would be sanctioned heavily.
The state government stressed that any hospital found guilty of such would be penalized as stipulated in Federal Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017.
According to the government, this act makes provisions for obligatory treatment and care for victims of gunshots stressing that the law stipulates that a person with a gunshot wound shall be received for immediate and adequate treatment by any hospital in Nigeria.
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, issued the threat on Sunday following a report conducted by the ministry personnel indicating that health facilities in Lagos were in the habit of rejecting or delaying care to traumatic victims which in some cases resulted in avoidable loss of lives.
“With this Act, it has become legally wrong for healthcare providers to delay attending to victims of gunshots and any other trauma under any circumstances. It is in this wise that I want to make it clear that the Lagos State Government will not hesitate to explore this law and to apply suitable sanctions against facilities that contravene the principle and body of the act”, Abayomi stated.
To further protect gunshot and trauma victims in Lagos, the commissioner hinted that plans were already intensified to review and revise the Lagos State Emergency policies and procedures.
He stated that the review would ensure prompt care for accident and trauma victims as well as service officials injured in the course of their duties, saying this is a strong mandate captured in the THEMES agenda of Governor Babajide Sonwoolu.
Abayomi added that review of the emergency policy will focus on emergency infrastructure, coordination, human resource capacity, response time, and obligations of citizens and health care providers.
While awaiting review of the law in Lagos, the commissioner strongly appealed to all health care providers including public and private health facilities operating in the State to stop the trend of rejecting victims.
He noted that several times such patients are not in a position to discuss the incidence or finance and are often brought in by good Samaritans.
“These deaths would have been avoided if health care providers were conversant with the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017 which stipulates that victims of gunshot and traumatic accidents should receive immediate treatment when presenting to healthcare facilities”, the Commissioner stated.
He noted that health care providers hold it duty-bound according to their professional oaths to first save lives by offering immediate attention to any patient requiring urgent critical and lifesaving supportive care before any other considerations.
“Such critical care should include where necessary all measures to stabilize the patient before onward referral to more equipped facilities. Simple procedures such as attempts to arrest bleeding or intravenous fluids could make all the difference to saving a life”, Abayomi said.