Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos High Court, on Friday sentenced a medical doctor, Dr Ejike Orji, to a year imprisonment for causing grievous harm, negligence and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.
Orji, the Medical Director, Excel Medical Centre, Dolphin Estate, was found guilty on four of the six counts charge leveled against him, which are counts 2, 3, 4 and 6.
However, he was discharged on counts 1 and 5 respectfully. The convict was initially arraigned alongside his wife Dr. Ifeayinwa Orji, but his wife was discharged and acquitted following an application by the Director of Public Production that the Lagos State government wishes to discontinue the case against her.
Delivering judgment, Justice Akintoye held that the prosecution has been able to establish the essential ingredients of the offence of breach of duty of care and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.
The court further held that the defendant’s action falls below what is reasonably expected of a medical doctor.Justice Akintoye held: “It is my opinion that the defendant committed a breach of duty as a medical practitioner, when he willfully refused to remove the fiberglass cast on the patient left leg despite complaints of severe pains, which thereby, resulted in a compartment syndrome.”
The court held that the convict applied Plaster of Paris (POP) cast on PW 10 leg using none medical staff, and without carrying out an x-ray to identify the level of injury.
Justice Akintoye further stated that Orji did not obtain the consent of the patients’s mother, who was in the hospital as at the time the POP was done.
The court held: “The defendant had undertaken to carry out the procedure and give medical treatment to PW 10 (patient), which turned out to be injurious to his health.
“The prosecution has been able to establish essential ingredients of the offences of breach of duty. I find that the prosecution has established essential ingredients in courts 2, 3, 4, and 6. The prosecution has, therefore, proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.
“Consequently, on counts one and five, the defendant is, thereby, found not guilty. On count two, three, four and six, I find him guilty and he is accordingly convicted. This is the judgment of the court”
In his plea of allocutus, the defendant’s counsel, Ajibola Ariba, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, adding that the defendant being a first offender has never been a convict for any crime in the past.
He stated that the defendant was born in 1958, and advanced in age. He urged the court to consider an option of fine. After his plea for mercy, Justice Akintoye held: “I have listened to plea for leniency on behalf of the defendant, that the defendant is a first time offender. Therefore, the defendant, Dr. Ejike Ferdinand Orji is hereby convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment each, on counts two, three, four and six.
However, the judge stated that the sentence would run concurrently. The fact of the case is that the defendant on July 26, 2018, at their hospital fixed a POP cast too tightly on a 16-year-old’s leg, which caused him grievous harm.
The victim complained of discomfort and asked that the POP be relaxed, but the defendants allegedly refused, which resulted in the teenager becoming unconscious and he was subsequently rushed to the Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos, where he was operated upon.
At the Reddington Hospital, it was discovered that the defendant had sawed off the POP and allegedly damaged the muscles in the lower part of the boy’s leg, foot and toes with wide open sores that were at the initial stage of becoming ‘compartmentalised’.
According to the prosecutor, Babatunde Sunmonu, the victim underwent four major surgeries, and following his critical condition, two orthopaedic surgeons from America extracted the dead muscles from the leg, adding that it was a major struggle to save the boy’s life as he had to be flown to America for further attention.