Physicians and wrong diagnosis of patients: An assessment of legal duties and liabilities in Nigeria
Scenarios of medical mishandling have been on the continuous increase in Nigeria, notwithstanding the extent of meticulousness ethically expected of medical personnel. Diseases when wrongly diagnosed or poorly managed endanger and waste human lives causing loss of confidence in the medical profession. It is on this premise that this paper examines the legal duties that physicians owe towards their patients and society's willingness to challenge medical mishandlings in the event of harm occurring from wrong diagnosis. This paper places reliance on the content analysis of various primary and secondary sources of law. It found that religious/cultural beliefs and high cost of litigation are major factors responsible for peoples' willingness to accept negligent acts as a matter of fate and therefore overlook it. The study recommends that increased public enlightenment on citizen’s right of redress should be encouraged. Adequate sensitization and provision of necessary equipment for medical personnel, especially those in public hospitals is suggested. The paper concludes that there is need to have Civil Liability Act in Nigeria that will accommodate less stringent proof of negligence instead of continued reliance being placed on common law rules.
Key words: Diagnosis, Wrong diagnosis, Medical Practice, Duty of Care and Negligence