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Doctors in Fear After Series of Attacks by Patients’ Relatives

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Doctors across Nigeria express growing concern for their safety following a spate of recent attacks by patients’ relatives.


Many Nigerian doctors are worried for their safety over the recent attacks on their colleagues while attending to patients in hospitals.

All Facts Newpaper learned that there were three different incidents of assault involving doctors in three different hospitals across the country last week. One occurred on Thursday in Ebonyi State.

A doctor in the department of surgery at the Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital in Abaliki, the capital of the state, was reportedly assaulted by a politician in the state. The doctor was attending to a relative of the politician when this happened.

Sunday Nnaji, the president of the hospital’s association of resident doctors, told The press that the doctor was assaulted while he was attending to Nwali’s father in the hospital because he deferred the date for his surgical procedure.

“The assaulted doctor is the senior registrar in the hospital’s department of surgery. A patient was supposed to undergo surgery, but after he was examined, it was discovered he was not fit to undergo the procedure. The doctor decided to defer the procedure until Monday, June 17,” said Nnaji.

“The doctor explained to the patient’s relative, but because they had made payments, they believed they could dictate when the surgery should be done. But they can’t dictate because they are not medical personnel. While the doctor was explaining to them, they called one of their brothers, who is a politician.”

Some minutes later, Nwali appeared with thugs. Nnaji told The press that the thugs beat the doctor and left him unconscious. He was then rushed into the hospital’s emergency ward.

“The doctor is under our care and observation. He is getting better,” Nnaji added.

The next day, another doctor was assaulted by some soldiers in Nasarawa while he was attending to patients in Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital’s accident and emergency ward.

All Facts Newspaper learned that some soldiers of the Operation Whirl Stroke Batallion of the Nigerian Army rescued the victim of an accident in front of the Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, and brought the patient into the hospital for treatment.

Adeleke Yakubu, the president of the Association of Resident Doctors, Nasarawa, told the press that the doctor was assaulted around 3 am on Friday while attending to another emergency.

“The doctor was attending to an emergency when the soldiers came in with an accident victim. He said the soldiers commanded him to stop attending to his patients and attend to the person they brought in. He told them it was an emergency and he could not stop what he was doing. That was when the soldiers, who were about seven in number, assaulted him. After they assaulted him, they took the person they brought in and left,” said Yakubu.

“Everything has been resolved now. The commanding officer of the battalion came to the hospital to apologise to the doctors without being invited after he heard what the soldiers did.”

Yakubu told the press that that was the third incident of assault on a doctor in a hospital in Nasarawa this year.

@Nigerian_Doctor, a user on X, also narrated on her profile how a police officer pulled a gun on a doctor who was attending to the officer’s child at the child emergency unit of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital.

The user wrote:

“Nigerian Doctors received with great concern the news that a police officer pulled a gun on a house officer while caring for the officer’s child emergency unit, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. We can only imagine the psychological trauma and the potential loss of life if bystanders had not physically restrained the police officer.”



Assaults on doctors are common in Nigeria. According to the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, no less than 146 doctors have been assaulted in the past two years. In February, Nigerian doctors called for laws criminalising assault on health workers as a means of mitigating these incidents.

These attacks leave other doctors worried for their safety. They fear that their safety may not be guaranteed and that, while working to save a life, they may lose theirs.

Nnaji told the press that doctors are afraid.

“The assailant was arrested and released on bail. The only thing we want is for the law to take its course and for justice to be served. If this does not happen, our safety in the hospital is at risk. All other doctors in the hospital are afraid of a reoccurrence,” said Nnaji.

Yakubu shared the sentiment. He told the press that the doctor who was assaulted in Nasarawa suffered psychological trauma as a result of the assault.

“He was shocked to have been attacked by soldiers while saving lives in the accident and emergency ward. We had to give him some time to recover from the psychological trauma,” Yakubu told the press .

Idowu Winner, a doctor who has been verbally assaulted by some relatives of his patients, told the press that patients’ relatives often forget that they ought to show empathy, and it worries him.

“Ï have been verbally assaulted by the relatives of some patients. Sometimes, they forget that even while they expect empathy, they should also show empathy. If things are not done their way or go their way, they become aggressive and look for ways to express their wrath. That wrath should not be expressed on the doctors who have been fighting tooth and nail to save their patients,” said Winner.

“These attacks make me fear for my safety.”

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