The management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, has denied allegations that one of its house officers, Dr Michael Umoh, died after a marathon 72-hour call.
The Chief Medical Director of the federal teaching hospital, Prof Lanre Adeyemo, speaking with our correspondent also said he had yet to receive the purported internal memo that had been circulating online, attributing the death of the house officer to a three-day call at the hospital.
Recall on Tuesday, an internal memo with the letterhead of the Association of Resident Doctors, LUTH branch, was leaked online and attributed Dr Umoh’s death to having worked a three-day non-stop shift in the Neurosurgery Department.
The memo addressed to LUTH’s CMD and dated 19th of September alleged that Umoh had after ending his call on Sunday morning, prepared for a church service same morning only to die shortly while in church at about 11am.
The letter also alleged that one of the most challenges the house officer face was being bullied by senior colleagues while also lamenting the “stressful call hours without breaks in-between, no call food, no good accommodation.”
The letter which had no signature then requested that house officers who worked the previous day be allowed to work half day the next day or resume work mid-day of the next day.
It also requested that house officers should not be made to work 48 hours at a stretch amongst other work friendly demands of them.
But Prof Adeyemo told our correspondent that the narrative that the deceased house officer worked three days straight was a lie and that he was not at work on Saturday nor the Sunday he died.
In a telephone conversation with our correspondent, the professor said, “It is unfortunate the young man died. He didn’t die in the hospital, he died outside the hospital but the narrative of 72 hours (work) is not true but you know we can’t be talking about that when someone just died.
“I just had a meeting with the head of Department and Neurosurgery Unit, the evidence provided to me didn’t show that. How they got the narrative of the 72 hours; honestly, I don’t know.
“Those who pushed out the narrative for whatever reason have realised it’s an error on their part. They family is grieving, the hospital is grieving.”
Also speaking, the leadership of the LUTH branch of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors led by Dr Kemi Abiloye also denied the letter originating from them, adding that they were not aware of such a letter until its circulation online.
The association stated this was a difficult time for the hospital and the association, describing the late Umoh as “a very promising young man.”
According to the ARD president, some people were playing politics with the young man’s death.
She also explained that the association only learned of the letter online and had made inquiries into the offices of the hospital to ascertain where it was but couldn’t find the purported letter.
Abiloye said, “He didn’t do 72 hours call as claimed online and that letter as the gen sec said, the association resident doctors of LUTH Teaching Hospital does not know about it and we can also confirm that the letter was not submitted to who it was addressed to.
“When we saw it online we went to the administration, CMD’s office, CMAC’s office, they searched and couldn’t find it.”
Speaking with our correspondent at the ARD office in LUTH, the association’s Secretary General, Dr Adedotun Adesiyakan, added that what was more disturbing was that “the critical information that was put there was either half-truth or were deliberate. In fact those half-truths are more dangerous than the lies there.”
Adesiyakan explained that Umoh, “was a doctor serving in the Surgery Department, Neurosurgery. He was not the only one in his unit. They were three in his cadre and the arrangement they made among themselves to ensure that the work is well distributed is to have periods of calls interspersed with periods of rest.
“He had two days of call and four days of rest and that was the plan. What we can say is that he was called on Thursday and Friday. His parents even reported that they saw him on Saturday at home.
“He was in church on Sunday morning. Preached in church on Sunday morning and unfortunately slumped after preaching at about 11am. There would be questions for his background health status but we’d leave that for the family.”
Adesiyakan admitted however that the brain drain in the health sector is taking a huge toll on the health of the serving doctors.