Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos State High court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square on Friday convicted and sentenced a Medical Doctor, Dr Ejike Orji, to one-year imprisonment for causing grievous harm, negligence and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.
Justice Akintoye jailed the Dr Orji, who is the Medical Director of Excel Medical Centre Dolphin Estate, after holding in her judgment that the Prosecution has proved the essential ingredients of the offence of breach of duty, care and endangering the life of a 16-year-old patient.
The judge further held, in her verdict, that the convict’s action falls below what is reasonably expected of a medical doctor.
The prosecution had accused the convict of committing the offences on July 26, 2018, at his hospital by fixing a Plaster of Paris cast too tightly on Ezi-Ashi’s leg, which caused him grievous harm.
The state counsel, Babatunde Sunmonu had also claimed that the victim complained of discomfort and asked that the POP be relaxed, but the convict 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.
He stated that 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’.
Sunmonu had also told the court that the victim underwent four major surgeries and following his critical condition, two orthopaedic surgeons from the United States of 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 the USA for further attention.
The convict was initially arraigned alongside his wife Dr (Mrs) Ifeayinwa Grace 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.
Justice Akintoye found Dr Orji guilty on four of the six counts of the charge brought against him by the state while he was discharged on two of the counts.
The judge held, “It my opinion that the Defendant committed a breach of duty as a medical practitioner when he willfully refused to remove the fibreglass cast on the patient’s left leg despite complaints of severe pains which thereby resulted in a compartment syndrome.”
The court also held that the convict applied a Plaster of Paris (POP) cast on the victim’s leg using no medical staff, and without carrying out an x-ray to identify the level of injury.
The court further held that Dr Orji did not obtain the consent of the mother of the patient, who was in the hospital at the time the Plaster of Paris (POP) was done.
She stated, “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 a reasonable doubt.
“Consequently, on counts one and five, the defendant, Dr Ejike Ferdinand Orji is thereby found not guilty. On counts two, three, four and six, I find him guilty and he is accordingly convicted. This is the judgement of the court”
In his plea for mercy, the defence lawyer, Ajibola Ariba urged the court to temper justice with mercy, stating that the convict is a first-time offender who had never been convicted of any crime in the past.
Ariba also stated that the defendant was born in 1958, and advanced in age. He urged the court to consider an option of a fine.
After listening to the lawyer, 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.”
The judge further ordered that the sentence shall run concurrently.