A tragic incident at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has brought to light the challenging working conditions faced by medical professionals, as a doctor lost his life after reportedly performing a gruelling 72-hour surgery without a break at the neurosurgery unit.
The Association of Resident Doctors conveyed this distressing news in a letter dated September 19, addressed to LUTH’s chief medical director.
In the letter titled “An Appeal By The House Officers Of LUTH,” the resident doctors raised concerns about several issues, including bullying by senior colleagues, excessively long and stressful call hours without breaks, and the absence of adequate provisions for meals and suitable accommodations.
The letter revealed the tragic death of a co-house officer, Dr. Umoh Michael, who passed away on September 17, 2023. Dr. Michael had reportedly been on a 72-hour call in the Neurosurgery Unit.
Following this gruelling duty, he returned home on Sunday morning, preparing to attend church. Tragically, he collapsed in his place of worship, the United Evangelical Church, at around 11 a.m.
According to his roommate, Dr. Michael had barely slept in their apartment for the past week, often arriving home around 3 a.m. after surgeries and other demanding activities in the Neurosurgery Unit.
The resident doctors outlined various longstanding challenges they have faced since starting their horsemanship at the hospital.
They emphasized the need to address the issue of bullying by senior colleagues, the provision of stressful call hours without breaks, the absence of food during call shifts, and inadequate accommodation.
In response to these challenges, the doctors presented several demands. They called for house officers who had been on call the previous day to have either a half-day off the following day or to commence work at midday.
Additionally, they insisted that house officers should not be compelled to work continuously for 48 hours.
The doctors also requested that the compulsory house check at the beginning of the house job should be made free or significantly subsidized for house officers.
The letter concluded with a plea for senior colleagues to create a more conducive working environment for the junior doctors, asserting that house officers should not be tasked with duties more appropriate for porters, nurses, or patient relatives.
This tragic incident has shed light on the arduous conditions and challenges faced by medical professionals, underscoring the importance of addressing these issues to ensure the well-being and safety of healthcare workers.