Medical Duty of Care: A Medico-Legal Analysis of Medical Negligence in Nigeria

It is established law that physicians owe a medical duty of care to their patients. This duty is sacrosanct and must be discharged with such degree of skill and competence the average practitioner of the profession under similar circumstances would use. Medical negligence arises where this degree of care is not observed. However it is not easily determinable when negligence is said to have arisen in view of certain extenuating circumstances as instanced in a scenario where a medical personnel decides not to attend to a dying man by the street. It becomes apposite to closely consider certain germane questions: what constitutes negligence? Can negligence be grounded in the case of a patient whose previous health condition predisposes him to certain unforeseen vulnerabilities? By what standard is the medical standard of care observed? This work situates these occasions in a vivid medico-legal analyses, while highlighting the defenses to medical negligence as availed by the law.

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