The management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, has urged the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Investigation Panel to investigate the alleged professional misconduct of a Lagos-based cosmetic surgeon and owner of Med Contour Aesthetic Clinic, Dr Anuoluwapo Adepoju.
The hospital, in a petition dated June 11, 2020, and signed by its Director of Legal Services, O. O. Olajide, accused Adepoju of professional misconduct during a surgery she performed on one Miss Nneka Onwuzuligbo at her facility.
According to LUTH, Adepoju had continued to perform surgeries despite the fact that her facility was sealed off by the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency.
In an affidavit attached to the petition, the hospital alleged that Adepoju referred the late Nneka from her facility to LUTH on January 3, 2019, on the pretext that she was being referred from the General Hospital, Odan, Lagos Island.
The victim, according to the affidavit deposed to by a consultant surgeon, Prof. Andrew Ugburo, was presented to LUTH with severe respiratory distress and septicaemia with infected surgical wounds.
The affidavit read in part, “The patient was well until she developed a sudden onset of breathlessness within 24 hours after the said surgical procedure. The breathlessness was progressive and necessitated her being taken immediately to the General Hospital, Odan, from the theatre.
“There was no reference in the referral note from the General Hospital, Odan, about the details of the type of tumescent fluid that was administered, neither was the volume and the type of anaesthetic used provided. The breathlessness was said to be progressive. During the said two days, the patient received oxygen and intravenous fluids at Med Contour Hospital.
“The patient was referred to (LUTH) without an informative referral letter. The accompanying note from the General Hospital, Odan, stated that the patient developed orthopnoea 16 hours after the surgical procedure.
“The informative referral letter from Dr Adepoju, who performed the surgery, was provided on the fourth day of presentation at LUTH upon my insistence and persistent request. The said referral letter dated, January 7, 2019, is attached herewith and marked as ‘Exhibit A’.
“She was noted to have significant deterioration of the vital signs before referral to LUTH for intensive care management on account of progressively worsening symptoms.
“Details of the surgical intervention subsequently received from Dr Adepoju (Exhibit A) showed that she had liposuction of the anterior abdomen, back, flanks and arms with fat transfer to the buttocks and hips. The surgery was done under spinal anaesthesia. The tumescent technique was used where three litres of fluid were infused into the patient and five litres of fluid were aspirated. She had two pints of blood transfused before presentation on account of anaemia.
“The account given about the patient further had it that there was no previous history of similar presentation in past surgery of myomectomy done three years before the liposuction and fat grafting. It was revealed that on the second day after the surgery, she was noticed to have persistent foul-smelling discharge from all the surgical sites.”
The hospital added that upon admission into LUTH, the first surgical debridement performed on the deceased on January 10, 2019, revealed extensive sloughing, with foul-smelling discharge from the deceased debrided hips and purulent discharges from puncture wounds on the anterior abdominal wall.”
It added that after the surgery, there was no improvement in the patient’s clinical state, hence the need to perform a second surgery on her, adding that after the second surgery, the clinical state of the victim improved till the 28th day of admission, when her vital signs deteriorated.
Ugburo further deposed that the victim developed multiple organ failure of cardiac, respiratory (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and renal failures and had a cardiac arrest on the 31st day of admission, adding that after cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was unsuccessful, the victim was certified dead around 9am on February 3, 2019.
However, LUTH alleged that Adepoju blamed the hospital for the death of the victim.
The affidavit further read, “Dr Adepoju has in a series of misleading and incorrect public statements in the social media absolved herself from liability in the management of this patient and put the blame on LUTH and its personnel, who availed the patient of their facilities and expertise. She directly impugned the competence of the hospital and her senior professional colleagues and teachers.
“Dr Adepoju further claimed in the video that the patient ‘walked to LUTH by herself’. This is false as the patient was brought to LUTH in an ambulance accompanied by her sister, Quincy Onwuzuligbo, in a state of severe respiratory distress.
“She (Adepoju) accused the medical team at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital of being responsible for the death of Miss Nneka Onwuzuligbo. She claimed this was due to wrongful positioning of the patient, stopping all antibiotics resulting in mortality. She stated in her video that liposuction and fat grafting is a new area of surgery and doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital are ignorant of post-operative management of the condition.
“Dr Adepoju instigated the relations of the patient and the public against the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and its doctors by saying that ‘the plastic surgeons and doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital should be asked about the death of Miss Onwuzuligbo Nneka’.”
While urging the panel to investigate the activities of Adepoju, LUTH stated that she obtained full registration as a medical practitioner on April 4, 2019, while she performed surgery on the deceased in December 2018, adding that she claimed to be a cosmetic surgeon without undergoing a residency training programme or being registered by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, on Friday, arraigned Adepoju before Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, over her services which allegedly resulted in the death of Nneka.
Adepoju, alongside her hospital, Med Contour Services Limited, was arraigned for allegedly obstructing the investigation by the FCCPC into the case.
In the five counts pressed against her, the FCCPC accused the cosmetic surgeon of shunning summons by the agency to appear and produce certain documents.
When contacted by newsmen, Adepoju claimed that Nneka only had pneumonia when she was referred to LUTH.
She added that she obtained her full registration as a medical practitioner in 2017, contrary to LUTH’s claim that she obtained her registration in 2019.
She said, “Nneka had the surgery done on December 31, 2018, while being awake; the surgery was successful and she was moved to the recovery room but the second day, we noticed that she was breathless and when we noticed that, we checked her blood oxygen level and it was normal even though she was breathing fast.
“When we did that, we saw that she was having a respiratory issue and we thought that the best thing to do was to refer her to a facility that had a respiratory unit. The surgery she did was successful and she was fine; it was days after the surgery that she developed a respiratory issue and we referred her to LUTH.
“I contacted the Lagos Island General Hospital first, but it does not have a respiratory unit; so, we got an ambulance and a referral letter from the general hospital to LUTH. Getting to LUTH, she walked into the facility after getting down from the ambulance.
“Getting into the facility, the doctors thought the breathlessness was caused by fat embolism, but after a test was conducted, there was no evidence of fat embolism. When she was leaving our facility, she didn’t have any form of infection. Her medication was discontinued at LUTH and she lay on her buttock and that alone made her lose fat, because when you put fat in the bum, she needed to stay away from sitting at least for two weeks to about two months so that there won’t be fat embolism.
“She was on her buttock for a while and she was also not on her antibiotics for some time due to some test they wanted to run and I also realised that some of the management team were very judgemental towards the patient and myself, and I think those things did not make them give the best care to the patient, because they were already biased and judgemental from the onset.
“She was placed on a ventilator for quite some time because the lungs could no longer function on their own. At the time she was leaving us, all she had was pneumonia and that was why we referred her. A doctor that we used to be partner was consulted to tell them about liposuction issue and he created a lot of bias and put a lot of fear in the family of the patient. They polluted the patient’s family mind and manipulated them to believe that it was the procedure she did with us that caused the issue she had.
“Contrary to what LUTH said, I finished with the class of 2014/2015 and I obtained my full registration as a medical practitioner in 2017. I did not do residency because I’m not a plastic surgeon and the requirement to perform liposuction is your MBBS degree.”