Legal and Ethical Issues in the Demand for Payment before Treatment in Nigerian Hospitals

Emmanuel O.C. Obidimma, Angela E. Obidimma


In recent time, accessibility of hospital or health care services especially in emergency cases has been an issue of great concern not only in Nigeria but also in the entire global village. The major hindrance to this accessibility is the insistence of medical practitioners and institutions on advance payment of fees before treatment. As a result of this stringent condition, lives have been lost and patients’ conditions deteriorated beyond management resulting in avoidable permanent injuries. This leads to the expression of disgust by members of the public. This article discusses the legal and ethical issues arising from the demand for payment of fees before treatment in hospitals. In doing so, certain pertinent questions are attempted: Is there any legal basis for demanding advance payment before treatment? Are medical practitioners within their morals in withholding treatment until their fees are paid? The article makes a comparative analysis of the practice in Nigeria and that in other jurisdictions. What is found is that even though the Nigerian situation is not too different from what obtains in other environments, the Nigerian position is not backed by any legislation and as such, if a medical practitioner fails to treat a patient in an emergency situation, nothing can be enforced against that medical practitioner. The paper concludes that the situation in Nigeria needs to change in order to be in consonance with best practices in the ever globalizing village the world has become.

Keywords: Legal and Ethical Issues, Payment, Treatment, Nigerian Hospitals.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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