Though dead and buried, fond memories of Mrs Ngozi Udebu’s love for her husband and four children will not be forgotten in a hurry. It was only in March this year that the deceased, a mother of four, died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital under unacceptable circumstances attributed to unprofessional and insensitive attitude of the nurses on duty. A vigil Mass was held on May 5 in her honour and burial took place at her home town, Asaba in Delta State on May 6, 2016.
Christabel Udebu, 16, is the first child and daughter of Mrs Udebu who died in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, (LUTH), Lagos.
Speaking with The Daily Times recently, Christabel who joined hundreds of others to protest public displeasure and the deteriorating state of the nation’s health system recently said, “I’ve lost my mum and best friend, and LUTH can’t bring her back to life.”
The protest was organised by Hope Alive Child Care Initiative (HACCI) in collaboration with Medical Police. “I’m here to create awareness and say enough is enough. We’ve had enough of LUTH using patients as experiments. Patients are humans and not animals,” the teenager said.
Narrating the painful death of her mum at LUTH, she said, “My mum complained of stomach pain so we took her to Regina Mundi Hospital, Mushin, Lagos but we were referred to LUTH because they couldn’t carry out the various tests needed.
“On the 26th of March, 2016, we showed the referral letter to LUTH authorities and we were taken to the Emergency ward. The Emergency ward had no fan, the toilets are bad and they don’t give immediate attention; they want paper work first before attending to life.
“We however did the necessary tests and the results were out. My Dad wanted to take the results to the pool of doctors but they told him to wait for ward-round. Meanwhile, my mum was the first in the ward, which means she will be attended to last. They looked at her and said all her parameters are okay but she has ulcer and said they were going to give her the required treatment and she would be okay.”
With those assuring words, Christabel felt relieved but she was shocked when they couldn’t get the drugs at the hospital’s pharmacy.
“What they had at the pharmacy was just hand gloves, they don’t even have injections. Not one of the list of drugs we were asked to buy could be found there. It’s shocking that a government hospital like LUTH lack basic things needed. We had to go outside to buy the required drugs.
“My mum was intravenous, so we expected the effect of the drugs to be immediate, but the pain was still climbing. My dad had to go to the doctors who prescribed another drug for him and he had to go out of the hospital again for the drugs but couldn’t get it. He then went to the doctors to ask where to get the drugs and he was directed to where to get it.
“The drug was administered and my mum improved but her breathing rate dropped, so we were asked to get oxygen mask. This is now on Easter Sunday. When we got the oxygen mask, the nurse tested it and used it on my mum.
“Meanwhile, we didn’t know that they don’t allow relatives to stay with patients, not until it was 11pm that we were told. Then my dad asked if my aunt could stay in case my mum needed anything but they insisted that no family member is allowed to stay with the patient, claiming that they know their work and they know when any patient need anything.”
In retrospect, the child lamented, “we regretted that we didn’t listen to my mum. My Mum’s last statement that day was: ‘Daddy, don’t go’ but we were pushed out of the place.
“The next day, my dad woke me up so I could go clean up my mum because she was in the female ward. When we got there, they told us to wait, that they wanted to talk to us; the curtain was already drawn. My dad was already wishing away the reality as he forcefully opened the curtain – and saw my mum lying dead. He challenged and asked when she died and the nurse said she died at 3am. She then said, the oxygen mask we brought didn’t work – but she tested and okayed it when we bought it.”
In pains, the child said she has lost her confider. “This has to stop in LUTH,” she cried.In their response, the management of LUTH denied the allegation of negligence in the death of Mrs Ngozi Udebu.
In a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Kelechi Otuneme, the hospital explained that the report of the independent panel it set up to look into the circumstances of the patient’s death didn’t find any doctor or nurse culpable of neglect.
It said the panel comprising senior medical personnel from three different departments, established that during the whole period of the deceased’s admission and after her demise, no report of poor treatment or negligence was brought to the notice of the managing team or LUTH management.
“Mrs Ngozi Udebu was a patient in our hospital having been admitted on 26th March 2016 and died about 51 hours later. She was admitted with abdominal pain from her monthly menstrual periods shortly after 40 days of religious fasting.
“She had taken an overdose of Piroxicam (50mg thrice daily for two days) a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killer, which is known to be associated with side effects of inflammation or ulceration of the stomach even at a regular dose.” However, the widower, Ausbet Udebu, insisted that his wife was suffocated to death. It is negligence that would make LUTH doctors and nurses place a patient on oxygen with nobody monitoring her until her death.
Mr Udebu said, “My loving wife wouldn’t have died if I were with my wife at that ward.” On allegation of overdose, Udebu said, “I only told them she was in her menstrual period and took a painkiller and not overdose. “I want Nigerians to know that we are sitting on a time-bomb that is about to explode. There are no medical equipments in hospitals, the patients are dying, yet the government officials travel abroad for medical treatment. It’s time for them to start patronising these hospitals too.
Government need to equip the hospitals. It is unheard of that a federal hospital like LUTH has no medical facilities to treat their patients and the medics are careless about the patients in their care. Enough of unnecessary deaths and killings. The rate Nigerians die in the hands of medical workers out of negligence and lack of facilities is no longer acceptable,” he said.