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ASSAULT ON RESIDENT DOCTORS: WHO WILL CALL THESE INTERLOPERS CALLED PATHOLOGISTS TO ORDER?

There would have been no need to respond to the above letter if no specific group of professionals were named as responsible for the repeated “assaults” claim.

Since the letter cited the incident to have happened in the Medical Laboratory Department of OAUTH, The Young Medical Laboratory Scientists Forum (YMLSF) feels compelled to respond appropriately.

The letter written and addressed to the management of OAUTH by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) smirks of a juvenile attempt to twist facts and draw public sympathy with unfounded claims.

These are the facts and the basis of the truth on which we stand:

1. The Medical Laboratory Scientist is the healthcare professional saddled with the responsibility of carrying out diagnostic investigations in the medical laboratory.

2.The license to carry out these investigations (license to practise as a Medical Laboratory Scientist) is the legal tender that qualifies a person to work on samples (blood, urine etc) collected from patients in order to estimate the value of the analyte of interest/elucidate the cause of the disease process/pathology through standardised and verified procedures as well as under approved conditions.

3. In Nigeria, there has been an unhealthy tussle and mixup of roles in the Medical Laboratory. A proliferation of quacks and half baked persons masquerading as Medical Laboratory Scientists has contributed to the decline glaringly noticeable in Nigeria’s healthcare sector and hastened the untimely deaths of many unknowing Nigerians.

4. The Medical Laboratory Scientist is a well trained professional, able to work without meddlesome interference and a “questionable” supervision. The recent NICN judgement has confirmed the autonomy of the Medical Laboratory Science profession.

5. The Medical Laboratory Scientist is a vital arm of the Medical team and her input is necessary for the lifesaving interventions that we all studied and swore to perform. Any healthcare system worth it’s salt depends on the Medical Laboratory for at least 70% of her diagnostic output. Thus, for the good of the patients for whom we all work, it is time to ensure that Medical Laboratory scientists are given free rein to perform the job they are already trained and employed to do.

The ARD OAUTH Chapter letter raised a lot of questions and they indicted themselves on many scores, let’s point out a few here.
For the sake of posterity, we would like to clarify these points raised in the letter:

i. The ARD claimed the “repeated assault” came from non medical staff, not naming any group or set of professionals; were they harassed by the security personnel, cleaners or spiritual staff in the department? As at last check, these are the likely non-medical staff to be found in the Medical Laboratory and none of these people carry out Laboratory investigations in a medical laboratory.

ii. They did not define the “legitimate duties” of the pathology residents in the laboratory. The questions begging for answers are: what do the “ARD” members really do in the laboratory, what is their job description in their appointment letters?
iii. They claimed they will not attend to results generated by non pathologists, are the results generated in their private hospitals conducted/certified by pathologists?

Given that these are the same sets of people that employ unqualified persons like Science Lab Technicians, Biochemists, Microbiologist, etc, to practice as Medical scientists in their private hospital laboratories, generating all manner of inaccurate, useless, wrong and harmful results to patients. Simply because they can not employ a qualified professional who will insist on the right standards. Yet, they want to use Government Facilities to practise what is not obtainable in their private hospitals.

iv. Lest we forget, Residency program is a training program, and all resident doctors are trainees, and since trainees are students, that means they are still learning and/or being trained in the field of study under interest – in this case which?
If that is the case, do students or interns work unsupervised? Even a post doctoral student has a supervisor.

As students, if they were to be allowed to work in the Lab, who should confirm and supervise who? A student (Resident Doctor) or a Medical Scientist who is licensed under the law of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria to carry out Laboratory investigations?
Pathology Residents Doctors should be ashamed, that they are coming to learn in their postgraduate studies, what a Medical Laboratory Scientist learnt at the undergraduate level, Yet, they want to claim supervisor to their teachers.

What an error and an abuse of the intellect! If the Management should really set up a panel, and the panel refuses to sanction you, then the management would have been indicted as accomplices in this rude and untamed arrogance perpetuated by the Resident Pathologists.

ARD nationwide is obviously afraid of the towering growth of medical laboratory scientists in Nigeria, no doubt. The recent NICN ruling in favour of The medical laboratory scientists must have sent shivers down their spine. If peaceful teamwork is not on your agenda; for the good of the patients we have all sworn under oath to care for, please steer clear of the Medical Laboratory Department for good and give Medical Laboratory Scientists breathing room to do their job without intimidation/harrassment.

The NICN ruling is clear, that Medical Laboratory Scientists are independent medical practitioners who work without external supervision. Those who want to generate /certify laboratory results they did not work on; carried out by medical scientists should do so in their consulting rooms not in the medical laboratory Department.

Lastly, we would like to advice the management to obey the rule of law and do what is right. Any scheming in favour of any party in deviance from extant Laws, will not go unnoticed.

YMLSF Members are advised to remain calm and keep following the path of civility. Your interests will always remain paramount in the struggle.

Yours Sincerely,

Henry O. Oshowo.
YMLSF NATIONAL PRO.

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