In a heartbreaking incident at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, a dedicated medical doctor met a tragic end during a Sunday church service. Dr. Umoh Michael, a house officer at LUTH, passed away on September 17, 2023, after a grueling 72-hour surgery marathon in the neurosurgery unit.
This shocking revelation came to light through a letter from the Association of Resident Doctors, addressed to LUTH’s chief medical director and dated September 19. In the strongly-worded letter titled ‘An Appeal By The House Officers Of LUTH,’ the doctors raised serious concerns about their working conditions and the circumstances leading to Dr. Umoh Michael’s untimely demise.
The letter painted a distressing picture of the challenges faced by house officers at LUTH, including allegations of bullying by senior colleagues, excessively stressful call hours without adequate breaks, and the absence of provisions for food and suitable accommodation. Dr. Michael’s case epitomized the toll these conditions took on the medical staff.
The letter explained that Dr. Umoh Michael had been on a continuous 72-hour call in the Neurosurgery Unit before attempting to attend a church service. Tragically, he collapsed at his worship center, the United Evangelical Church, around 11 a.m. on that fateful Sunday morning.
The grief-stricken house officers voiced their concerns about the relentless workload, with Dr. Michael’s roommate attesting that he had barely slept in their apartment over the past week due to his demanding schedule. He often returned home around 3 a.m. after surgeries and other activities in the Neurosurgery Unit.
In response to these harrowing circumstances, the house officers demanded several critical changes. They called for a system where house officers who had completed a call shift the previous day should be allowed either half a day off the following day or a delayed start to their duties. They also insisted that house officers should not be subjected to continuous 48-hour shifts.
Furthermore, the letter emphasized the need for free or heavily subsidized house checks at the beginning of their housemanship, stressing that senior colleagues should make the working environment more accommodating. The house officers also urged that they should not be tasked with duties meant for porters, nurses, or patient relatives.
As of now, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital has not responded to requests for comment on the serious concerns raised by the doctors. This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals and the urgent need for improvements in their working conditions to ensure their well-being and the quality of care they provide to patients.