The Dilemma of a Medical Officer

Ending stigma and discrimination.

Looking at the sickly patient on the hospital bed in the ward, she felt pity for him, wishing he had come earlier, known about his condition, his status… only if he had known earlier he would not have progressed so rapidly to the late stage of HIV. His health and life could have been savaged, preserved and function for good.

Well, now he’s lying down here on the bed. There is only a little she could do for him. She being the newly posted medical officer (intern) to the unit of the hospital and since she would be spending a while in the unit, guess she is not in a rush to save anybody or make herself too conspicuous for more work than she already has – Setting lines, ward rounds, keeping records, routine tests and running errands are already enough job.

Today, the patient has suddenly regressed and seemed to be going into failure and EOD, so his blood sample was requested for to run some basic investigations…

By the way, once in the past when in paediatrics posting, I had seen one of my residents use gloved hands with 4 gloves together to withdraw a blood sample from an RVD patient; I kept wondering why.

… She got the syringe, got the needle and the universal bottle… in a hurry to drawn the blood, send it to the lab and save his life, in such a hurry that wearing protective gloves was trivial. She got hold of his hand, draw the blood in a haste, capped the bottle in a haste; she didn’t see the reason to cap the needle first and dispose into the sharps box…

“Hello, is this the staff lab? I just sustained a needle prick injury”. She said in a clear shaky voice, what should I do? …

An hour before, while trying to tidy the table she felt a sting, only to look down at the source and it dawned on her that she had mistakenly pricked her own finger with a needle used for an HIV patient… all she ever did wrong was be in a haste to save his life. Fear sets in as she saw the tiny blood ball form on her finger, she ran to wash her hand, she used all antiseptic solutions available but the deed had been done.

… Jolted back to reality by the voice on the other end of the line, “Calm down ma, when and how did this happen? … Sadly, she recounted the whole event.

Four months down the line, she brings in her husband she got married to about a year ago for counselling. Six months later, she is being prepared for her elective CS by senior colleagues to save her baby from the virus she got trying to save a life.

She is positive, her baby and family, negative. This is the situation many Healthcare Providers find themselves. Some may have died but those alive are living positively and still in the business of saving lives.

RIP to those who have lost their lives, trying to save others… and more power and strength to those still in the struggle…

Oluwakemisola A.

For the Standing Committee on Reproductive Health including AIDS (SCORA), Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA), Federation of Medical Students Association (FAMSA) and International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA).

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