No Respite Yet For Patients With Gunshot Wounds

News Introduction: 
Some hospitals in Abuja may have adopted subtle measures to deny patients with gunshot wounds treatment despite directive by police authorities to the contrary. - By Arems Tekula

Perhaps, Victor Uko would have been alive today if urgent medical attention was given to him. Uko, a victim of a gunshot wound was taken to five different hospitals after unknown persons shot him in his house at Jikwoyi, a suburb of Abuja on May 5. The management of the hospitals denied that they rejected the patient treatment when he was brought for admission. 
Uko was first rushed to the Sisters of Nativity Hospital, a mission hospital located at Jikwoyi, immediately he was shot. The hospital management claimed it lacked an x-ray machine to scan the location of the bullet. “We only gave him pain relievers because he was groaning in pain,” an official of the hospital told this magazine. They said they were concerned about fragments and the extent of damaged tissues. 
Investigation showed that the hospital needed a police report before giving him treatment as it is required for gunshot wounds. While on admission at the hospital, several calls were made to the nearby Jikwoyi police station for a report but did not receive immediate reply. The patient was referred to National Hospital.  
At the National Hospital, a family member told this magazine that doctors there refused to admit him. Udemeobong Idiok, a brother-in-law of the victim said they were told there was no bed space to admit him. He said Victor’s wife went on her knees, begging the people at emergency ward to take her husband or treat him in the ambulance. He added that she provided her wrapper, which she spread on the floor so that her husband could be treated but her plea went unheeded. Tayo Haastrup, head of department management information services at National Hospital said there was no way that could have happened. “This is life we are talking about.” He said the hospital has investigated the matter and there was no report of any rejection. The National Hospital is said to have a capacity of about 250-bed space.
Victor was then taken to Garki General Hospital but the hospital management said it had no records of a gunshot patient that night. The authorities of Cedar Crest Hospital confirmed that the patient was brought at about 11.05 p.m. that night but was referred to Maitama District Hospital at 11.30 p.m. as the extent of the damage was beyond what they could handle. The clinical services manager at the hospital who did not want his name in print said emergency staff at the hospital assessed and resuscitated Uko giving him intravenous fluids, blood, pain relievers and antibiotics. He said the hospital could not provide the “expert surgical care” required under the circumstances and therefore referred the patient to Maitama District Hospital, where Uko later died after holding on for five hours. 
A family member, Ronald said when they got to Maitama, “they were saying they did not have bed space again; it was sad because I was not expecting it, not a government hospital like it.”  The patient was said not to have been given treatment immediately. “They didn’t begin attending to him until calls were put through by influential figures from Uko’s hometown of Akwam, you can imagine. One Mr. Akpabio called them to call the medical director that was when they started giving him attention,” he said.
The management of the hospital however denied the claims and said the “issue of bed space never arose.” A top management staff of the hospital who pleaded anonymity said after administering the first pint of blood they were about giving him a second when he gave up. The chief medical director of the hospital, Dr Adetoun Sotimehin said a lot of time had elapsed before Uko was taken there. He noted that delays at the other hospitals where he was taken to might have contributed in worsening his condition. According to him, hospital records showed that Uko’s pulse rate was fast and his extremities cold. “That happens when you have lost blood so your heart is trying to compensate for blood loss,” the CMD explained. “While tests were conducted, he was given plasma expanders to expand the plasma and allow the little available blood to flow. When the blood was available he was transfused. He was given IV (intravenous) fluids and blood while we tried to get in touch with the surgeon to come and do the surgery. It was a difficult surgery and would need the expertise of someone very qualified,” she explained.
Uko’s neighbour, Blessing Steven said the patient was not unconscious after he was shot. Blessing explained that she saw him clutching his bleeding abdomen and attempting to get into his car to drive to hospital.
This magazine was told that among the three consultant surgeons to operate on Uko one of them lived in Kubwa which is about 20 km away from the hospital. By the time the consultant came he had already died. The CMD said the patient would have been saved if the surgeon had been available at the time Uko was brought in. He was said to have lost too much blood. 
Uko’s family blamed his death on medical staff at the five hospitals he was taken to for treatment for failing to save him. Space is said to be the problem most hospitals in Abuja face. 
The Federal Capital Territory, FCT police public relations officer, Jimoh Moshood, declined comment on the issue despite several calls and text messages sent to his phone. Following a motion last year by the National Assembly, the police have lifted the ban on hospitals treating patients with gunshot wounds.


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