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How Long Should A Patient On Appointment Wait For A Doctor? (3)


The collapse of the Francis Scot Key Bridge in Baltimore Port, Maryland United States of America, a news that shook the entire world in sea transportation about two weeks ago, when a 300 metres long container ship lost power and collided with the bridge, is a big lesson for all quality enthusiasts all over the world.

How would a bridge built with a three-level protection structure be brought down by an ordinary ship? So much was put into the design of the bridge, which has withstood all kinds of assaults since it was put into use in 1977 when it was dedicated.

The simple lesson is that quality assurance is a moving target. The desire for constant improvement, almost on a daily basis is necessary to keep ahead in a world where the taste and demands of the customer are also changing on a daily basis.

Six people, majorly construction workers fixing pot holes on the bridge are presumed to have lost their lives. The tragedy would have cost far more lives, if not for the first responders’ act, put up by the people in control of the ship and traffic officers on duty that early morning. The ship’s pilots were sure that the ship will run into the bridge, because the ship had lost power and couldn’t be controlled. Rather than just sit back and think about their own safety, they were concerned about who will be affected when the ship will ram into the bridge. They knew that there will be several motorists on the bridge, whose lives would be endangered, whenever the ship will hit the bridge. So they put out a distress call, which was intercepted by the authorities and in a few moments, the bridge was cleared of all vehicular movements as no vehicle was allowed to go onto the bridge. A few times that I was in Maryland, United States, I had been on the bridge and it was always busy no matter the time of the day.

Taking this story down to the health sector, particularly in Nigeria, where health institutions, most especially private ones think of themselves first and the money they will make from patients, not thinking about one’s self and thinking mainly about the welfare of the patient is almost an unheard of thing. The interest of the customer (I mean the patient) is always subordinated to every other thing. The patient is seen as money and only as money. Patient-centredness is almost non-existent even when he has paid. I was part of a project that involved a survey that involved healthcare attention at the highest level of medical attention. It is a pity to report that the report was disappointing. A few facilities in the whole country’s healthcare system were of the required state and status to host what the procedures involved in that area of medical attention demanded.

Due to the very low state of infrastructural development in Africa and in a country like Nigeria, it will be asking for too much to think we can quickly match the western world in terms of sophistication of the healthcare system. What we can use to up our game and square up with them is the fact that we can do something about care of patients, who are the customers in the healthcare system.

When patient-consciousssness rules every gamut of our healthcare delivery, the rating of our healthcare system will go up. If medical errors kill so many people, even in advanced environments like the United States (on which we reported on this post two editions ago), and if healthcare practitioners in Nigeria can work on the area of reducing medical errors to the barest minimum, then, we would have gotten something that we can be proud about, and on which we can say makes us better than the USA health system.

Kola Owolabi:- (FIMC) Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (with certifications in Healthcare Organizations Operations and Qualify Improvement in Healthcare Organizations)


Kola Owolabi is the Principal Consultant of Healing Balm Health Consult, a Healthcare Consultancy services organization involved in the training of healthcare practitioners, particularly on issues concerning putting in place quality improvement culture . He has consulted for prominent Healthcare organizations in the world, including the United States largest maker of minimally invasive cardiological devices, Nigeria’s most prominent firm of opthalmologists and opticians and several others.

To receive more information please text “SEND MORE INFO on your  Healthcare Short Courses and Quality Service Improvement Programmes”  by WhatsApp. You can also send reactions to the contents of this post or any question you may have to Whatsapp No 09031911326.

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