Dr Aghogho Owhojede, who treated the late Sylvester Oromoni before his death, did not give medical diagnosis for the 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Lagos.
Owhojede, the Oromoni family doctor, also did not issue the student’s certificate of death.
Counsel to Dowen College made the claim on Tuesday at a coroner’s inquest to unravel the circumstances sorrounding the death of the student.
The counsel, Mr Anthony Kpokpo, examined Owhojede at an Ikeja Coroner’s Court.
Owhojede gave evidence for more than seven hours (9.30am to 5.15pm) at the inquest.
He was questioned by counsel representing Dowen College, two accused students of the school, Lagos State Government and Nigerian Bar Association.
Owhojede, who has practised general medicine for 24 years, has been the Oromoni family doctor for 15 years.
He treated the late student at home for acute malaria from Nov. 26, 2021, until his death on Nov. 30, 2021.
Holding Owhojede’s medical notes during proceedings, counsel to Dowen College, Kpokpo, said that the document revealed that Owhojede never gave diagnosis for the late student.
Disputing Kpokpo’s claims, Owhojede said, “The diagnosis is not stated there (medical notes) but it is implied.”
The doctor disagreed with the counsel’s assertion that a medical note without a diagnosis “is directionless”, but agreed that it was not normal to treat a patient without diagnosis.
Asking the medical doctor why he did not issue the late student’s certificate of death, Kpokpo said: “You told the police that you did not issue certificate of death because there was much wailing in your hospital.
“Were you one of those wailing? Did the wailing affect your professional judgment?”
Responding, Owhojede admitted not issuing certificate of death due to the aforementioned reason.
He, however, said that he was not wailing on the day the student passed away and that the wailing did not affect his professional judgment.
The Dowen College lawyer added at the inquest that Owhojede did not take the late student’s temperature when he treated him on Nov. 27, 2021.
“As at Nov. 26, 2021, you recorded in your notes that the temperature of the deceased was 38.7 degrees. Was this a cause for concern?
“With the temperature so high in your opinion, will that be a child who required urgent medical attention?
“As at Nov. 27, 2021, you recorded that his temperature was down. Can you take your notes and read the value?” he asked.
Responding, the doctor said, “His temperature on Nov. 26, 2021, was a cause for concern.
“It was down on Nov. 27, 2021, but I did not record it in my notes.
“A doctor will know if temperature is down because he will determine if the patient is febrile (showing symptoms of fever) to touch or afebrile (not feverish) to touch,” he replied.
The Dowen College counsel said that when Owhojede started treating the late student on Nov. 26, 2021, his Packed Cell Volume (PVC) was 31 per cent and by Nov. 30, 2021 it had fallen to 21 per cent.
Kpokpo said that on Nov. 26, 2021, the deceased’s white blood cells were 6,800 but by Nov. 30, 2021, they had increased exponentially to 17,500.
“If you had checked his white blood cells on 27 to 29 Nov. 2021, you would have noticed that there was hyperactivity of white blood cells which indicated the deceased was fighting an infection,” he said.
Owhojede disagreed with the assertion, sayng that other factors could have caused the increase of white blood cells.
Making further claims, Kpokpo said that the increased white blood cells was indicative of Leukocytosis (increase of white blood cells in the body during an infection) which indicated that the child’s immune system was being compromised.
The lawyer said that on Nov. 26, 2021, when the doctor started treatment of the late Dowen College student, his blood sugar was 107 and by Nov. 30, 2021, it had crashed to 54.
“Did you at any point in time come to the conclusion that the child likely had an infection?” Kpokpo asked.
Responding, Owhojede said, “I knew he had a problem more than infection.”
The Dowen College lawyer added that the doctor’s medical notes revealed that the late student had an enlarged liver.
“The enlarged liver was discovered on Nov. 26, 2021. You indicated that the deceased was in severe painful distress and was repeatedly opening his excoriated (damaged) lips and mouth,” he said.
Kpokpo asked the medical doctor if he conducted a liver function test to determine whether the organ was functioning optimally after he discovered that the late student had an enlarged liver.
“No I did not,” the doctor responded.
The counsel further asked why the doctor did not see the late student, who was in a critical state, for 32 hours (from 9.00 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2021, until 5.00 p.m. on Nov. 28, 2021).
“If he had been in your hospital, would you have been away from a patient under severe painful distress and enlarged liver for that long?” Kpokpo asked.
“The answer is yes. I visited him severally, a nurse was with him,” the doctor replied.
Kpokpo informed the inquest that the doctor’s medical notes of Nov. 30, 2021, indicated that the late student was brought in Dead on Arrival (DoA) to his hospital.
He said that the time of the death was not indicated in the medical notes.
Mr Bernard Oniga, counsel to Nigerian Bar Association, questioned Aghogho’s level of care .
“In your opinion, did you discharge full and acceptable level of care, due diligence and professionalism in the care for the deceased, taking into consideration that he had escalation of white blood cells from 6,800 to 17,500.
“His PCV dropped from 34 per cent on Nov. 26, 2021 to 21 per cent on Nov. 29, 2021, and his blood sugar crashed from 107 to 54, all within your care?” Oniga asked.
“Yes, my lord,” the medical doctor replied.
Adjourning proceedings, the Coroner, Mr Mikhail Kadiri, said, “Case is adjourned to Feb. 7 for further proceedings.
“The law firm of Falana and Falana should ensure attendance of the father of the deceased at the proceedings.
“Evidence of the pathologist will be taken on Feb. 8.”
NAN reports that it was alleged that the 12-year-old student died on Nov. 30, 202, from injuries sustained in an attack by five senior students of Dowen College for allegedly refusing to join a cult.
It was also alleged that he was forced to drink an obnoxious substance by his attackers.
Advice by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution, which was released on Jan. 4, however, disputed the allegations, stating that two autopsies revealed the cause of the student’s death as acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis.