Causes of wrong diagnosis of diseases in Nigerian Hospitals by Dr. Bassey

Dr. Bassey Enya Bassey

Dr. Bassey Enya Bassey, president of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) has identified some of the  reasons that are  responsible for the wrong diagnosis of illnesses in Nigerian hospitals.
You may recall that the popular actor Sadiq Daba was diagnosed in Nigeria to have prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, as well as Leukemia that requires surgical operation. However, in the United Kingdom same conditions- prostrate cancer was said no to have spread and the Leukemia not requiring any surgical operation whatsoever but simple medications to treat.
Many others like late Gani Fawehinmi (the human rights lawyer and activists), late Prof. Dora Akunyili (former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control) are a handful whose illnesses were wrongly diagnosed in Nigeria.
Since an estimated 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results, Dr. Bassey believes the causes of wrong diagnosis in Nigeria could not be unconnected with the followings:
1. Employment of  wrong professionals to conduct laboratory tests:
The country is faced with situations where wrong professionals are employed to conduct laboratory tests. If a hospital wants to employ laboratotry personnel, they should ensure that the people they recruit are the right personnel.
2. Wrong environment:
The laboratory space in Nigeria is not adequate and where it is adequate does not conform to international standard. If they want to build laboratory they should ensure that the laboratory conforms to specification set by the country.
3. Wrong equipments:
If they want to buy lab equipment, they should ensure that the equipment is up to standard, conforming to the right specification. But that is not happening in Nigeria.

There should be right personnel, right equipment and right environment. So, when you get the right personnel, right equipment and right environment, you are sure that your diagnosis will be up to 98 per cent accurate.

The Way Forward:
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) should setup the Department of Medical Laboratory Service to cater for over 20,000 medical laboratory scientists in Nigeria. Once that department is established we will have a command structure, which will translate to getting the right personnel, the right equipment and the right environment. So, if the laboratory does not get it right,. you cannot get it right. No such department exists in the FMOH.
As far back as 2007, some partner organisations came together and identified this weakness and recommended the setting up of National Medical Laboratory Service Policy for the country and part of the recommendation was the setting up of the Department of Medical Laboratory Services in the FMOH. Since 2007 that has not happened.
The absence of this proposed department and the policy have impacted negatively on laboratory services in the country.
Implications of this absence is that:
  • There is no coordination of laboratory services in Nigeria, which means when you send a battalion to the field nobody is coordinating. So, everybody does what he wants to do and that is not right.
  • Operators of laboratory services recruit any type of person they want to be in the laboratory; there is no right equipment because the people who make recommendation for equipment that are supposed to be in the laboratory are not laboratory scientists ‘ab initio’; there is no right environment because the environment we find ourselves as laboratory scientists is very hostile.

Culled from the Newtelegraphonline
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