Dental therapist ‘kills’ undergraduate in Gombe

An undergraduate at the Federal University of Gombe, Alex Ogbonna, has died in apparently avoidable circumstances at the Kashere General Hospital.

Ogbonna died on January 30, as a result of anesthesia complications administered on him by a dental therapist passing himself off as a dental surgeon.

Ogbonna was said to have gone to the hospital with an aching tooth.

His death is the latest in the spate of avoidable deaths in the nation’s health sector.

An 18-month-old twin girl, Taye Adetunji, who was taken to the General Hospital Igando, Lagos, by her parents last April, died in similar circumstances at an unregistered medical facility where she was unprofessionally referred to.

However the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) is yet to investigate Adetunji’s case despite petitions from the bereaved parents and recommendations from the Lagos State Hospital Management Board.

Narrating the incident on social media, a woman Margaret Ebulue said Ogbonna visited the dental clinic at the General Hospital on Wednesday only to be given a wrong injection.

“Alex is dead,” she wrote. “The doctor is on the run; we want #justice for Alex. I just spoke to his younger brother Joseph Ogbonna, He said the dentist in question is not a dentist but a lab technician who posed as a dentist.

“The brother of the deceased said he was administered an injection which caused him a headache, and another which destabilised him.”

Ogbonna’s aching tooth was not refilled.

Condemning the incident, the Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) said the culprit was not a dentist and overstepped his bounds as a dental therapist.

A statement by NDA President Dr. Eshikena noted that the dental surgeon at the hospital was on leave and the therapist was not qualified to administer the anaesthesia.

“On Thursday January 30, 2020 a viral video was brought to our attention about a young man who lost his life following complications of a dental anesthesia at General Hospital, Kashere, Gombe State. We will like to express our deepest regrets and condolences to the affected family and friends of the deceased.

“However, contrary to circulating news that he was attended to by a dental surgeon, we can confirm that the anaesthesia was administered by a dental therapist who ordinarily was not qualified to administer such treatments.

“The dental team comprises dental surgeons (doctors) and other support staff like the therapists, technologists and nurses. All have their specific job descriptions and are not expected to overstep their line of duties.

“Anaesthesia is a procedure that should only be administered by qualified dental surgeons.

“Alex lost his life due to a failure in our health system. Reports reaching us suggest that the dental surgeon attached to that hospital was on leave. The therapist saw the gap and decided to overstep, an action we strongly frown against.

“The issue has been taken up by the appropriate authorities and measures are being put in place to ensure such never repeats itself. Once again, we commiserate with the family and friends of Alex and will ensure that we go to all length to ensure justice is served.

“We use this medium to encourage members of the public to seek care from qualified dentists only as many quacks parade themselves to gullible clients.”

Nigerians on social media demanded the arrest, prosecution of the culprit.

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