The Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has debunked claims by a bereaved husband, Ausbet Udebu, that his late wife, Mrs. Ngozi Udebu, died from suffocation in the hospital.
The widower had accused LUTH of manslaughter by gross negligence of his late wife while she was on admission in the hospital.
Absolving the hospital’s medical personnel of complicity in Mrs. Ngozi Udebu’s death two days after she was rushed to the hospital on March 26, LUTH Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Prof Femi Fasanmade explained: “She had presented with abdominal pain from her monthly menstrual periods shortly after 40 days of religious fasting. She had taken an overdose of Piroxicam (50 mg thrice daily for two days) a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killer, which is known to be associated with side effects of inflammation or ulceration of the stomach even at a regular dose.
“She was attended to by medical team including consultant. Immediately a test was conducted on her, she started receiving treatment for peptic ulcer after ultrasound scans and other tests were run. Along the line, she started having difficulty breathing, few hours to her death, and was given oxygen therapy, which continued until she died.
“There was no distress call by the patient, other patients or any other person around her in the ward prior to her sudden death. In view of the strange and sudden death of our patient, the managing team immediately requested for an autopsy to unravel the immediate and remote causes of her demise as is standard lay practise in such cases of unusual death. This autopsy was prompted by the LUTH.
“The autopsy preliminary report demonstrated evidence of asphyxia though no foreign body or evidence of strangulation was found. Further specialised histology report obtained later confirmed fluid in the terminal air passages which support aspiration of food, fluids or secretions. The stomach was inflamed but not actively bleeding or perforated which is not surprising, considering that she was already on anti peptic ulcer therapy.”
“The pathological diagnosis confirmed the actual and final cause of death as the ulcers were already healing.
“A reconstruction of the events leading to her demise can be deduced thus: A known patient with dysmenorrhoea who was fasting took an overdose of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, the analgesics suppressed the menstrual pain but damaged the stomach leading to excruciating pain in the abdomen which brought her to LUTH.
“Our doctors correctly diagnosed gastritis promptly and gave appropriate treatment. Ulcers do not show up on ultrasound scans explaining the negative ultrasound scan findings. The pains started to abate by the second day. However, on the day of demise, while the patient was asleep late at night, she most probably aspirated food, throat secretions or water leading to bronchospasm and respiratory distress which rapidly culminated in her death. She was found dead and all attempts to revive her failed,” Fasunmade said.