Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

Written by John Kotey

Why are our health systems a mess? Negligent doctors and nurses cause so many deaths on a daily basis.

When my mom was bitten by a snake a few years ago in Ghana, the doctor on duty prescribed antimalarial drugs instead of anti-snake serum. When we cautioned him, he claimed there was no anti-snake serum at Ridge Hospital.

We combed through almost every hospital in Accra only to find anti-snake serum at Adabraka Polyclinic about 15 hours later. When we brought it back to Ridge hospital, we were told serum from the hospital had just been administered to my mom and that Ridge Hospital is the main hub that stores and distributes anti-snake serum to medical facilities in Ghana and West Africa.

So why did the doctor on duty not know that there was a stockpile of the drug in the hospital? Why didn’t any of the nurses or doctors know as well? If it wasn’t for God’s grace, my mom would have died that night.

That very night, three patients died in my mom’s ward. One’s oxygen run out but all the nurses were asleep so they couldn’t wake up in time to replace it. Another patient who lay next to my mom fell off his bed and died. My dad had prevented him from falling several times but got tired and dozed off when the lazy, sleeping nurses refused to help him consistently.

The next morning after hearing of the deaths of the three patients and the lack of knowledge of doctors and nurses that Ridge stores a lot of anti-snake serum, I caused a lot of commotion in the hospital. The nurses eventually barred me from entering my mom’s ward. But I swore to come back to place cameras in their common areas to make sure they do not sleep on duty. And I intend to keep that promise.

The niceness, and newness of the medical facilities does not make these medical institutions strong and reliable. We have doctors and nurses who go into the medical profession because it pays well. It’s prestigious. Their family forced them into it. People interpreted their WASSCE results as doctor material, or there was no other option than nursing school and the allowances thereto attached.

We have many in the medical profession who have no place being there. Imagine if 50 percent of pilots actually didn’t want to be pilots and so spent most of their time in the cockpit playing candy crush, WhatsApping or simply sleeping. Just imagine the carnage.

So why can’t we hold our medical professionals to a higher standard? Why aren’t we suing doctors, nurses and their medical institutions for negligent behavior that causes the demise of our family and friends?

Putting cameras in resting areas of nurses and doctors might be strongly opposed by these negligent professionals. But we can all use our phone cameras to record these sleeping, and negligent nurses and doctors. And maybe when we start publicly shaming and possibly jailing these assassins cloaked in medical attire, we can clear the rot in this noble profession.

John Kotey is a is a Systems Entrepreneur, STEM Enthusiast and Active Citizen. As a systems entrepreneur, he is the co-founder of Nsesa Foundation, an organization inspiring an innovation revolution in African through STEM education initiatives like Project iSWEST innovation bootcamps for high school students and SuaCode – a smartphone-based code learning system.

John often writes on a wide range of topics including entrepreneurship, political accountability and nation-building. He is passionate about the role of entrepreneurship in spurring the African renaissance.

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  1. This is terrible to hear. I work for a hospital where patient safety is a top priority; the staff are truly held accountable. It’s a great start speaking up about your experience and sticking to holding the hospital accountable. Maybe you can find other members of the community and inspire them to come together to produce change. Good luck and I hope the situation improves dramatically soon!