A purpose of law is to regulate human conduct. The rules set up are there to make the society a saner place–by protecting the vulnerable from the many tendencies of the ‘overlords’.
Under the Nigerian medical law, a medical practitioner may be guilty of an offence if he engages in any of the following:
1. Self-advertisement. According to Collins dictionary, self-advertisement is the “act of gaining publicity for oneself and one’s activities especially through pushy, extrovert behaviour and not hesitating to put oneself forward”. Is there a thin line between enlightenment/campaigns and advertisement? In my opinion, what will amount to publicity can only be left to the judge or disciplinary committee to decide.
2. Adultery or Improper sexual relations with a patient. A medical doctor should in the cause of carrying out his/her duty maintain strict business-like attitude with patients. Any form of hanky panky or inappropriate teasing can lead to undesirable closeness or intimacy between the two. As it is known the world over, a doctor-patient relationship is a fiduciary one, patients are considered vulnerable and must be protected. Even a defence of consent may not exonerate a medical doctor because he is considered to have taken undue advantage of his patient-victim.
3. Issuance of fake medical report. A medical practitioner is liable for professional misconduct if he knowingly issues a fake or misleading medical report. He/she must consider themselves as a trustee for public health and must not be seen to derail public health security.
4. Abortion. under the nigerian law, abortion is illegal. It carries a jail sentence of up to 14 years- unless it is done to save the life of the pregnant woman. Thus, medical practitioners in Nigeria are prohibited from suggesting and performing any act to terminate a pregnancy unless the case is an exception to the general rule.
5. Extortion of money from patients. medical doctors are not expected to coerce patients into paying unnecessary fees under any guise. Obtaining money from patients by taking advantage of their poor health issues will render a medical doctor liable for professional misconduct.
References: Cap. 386 & 221 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990