For about a month now, some patients who have been billed to undergo hip and knee replacement surgeries at the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi (NOHI) Lagos have been left in limbo as hospital battles shortage of materials for their implants.
Healthstyleplus Online learnt that the patients who are mostly elderly and a few younger ones were billed to undergo one or two corrective surgeries for either the knees or hips due to various reasons ranging from osteoarthritis, injuries resulting from accidents, to hip degeneration but “were not in anyway, life threatening”.
Our Correspondent learnt that the first signs of the non-availability of some sizes of implants was first noticed early in the year when patients’ surgeries were being rescheduled as some sizes of implants could not be bought from the Hospital stores.
“Two weeks ago, an announcement was made during our clinic at the Out Patient Department that patients billed for knee joints and hip replacement surgeries would have to go home and a new date would be arranged once the management is able to make new stock available”, said a patient.
As a result of the out-of-stock syndrome, all the patients who had been admitted and slated for various surgeries were discharged.
told Healthstyleplus Online “it is not the fault of the hospital that we do not have some sizes of implants for knee and hip corrective surgeries in stock for use by our patients. This is the first time we are faced with this kind of situation as we have always had in stock what our patients need ahead of their surgeries. We are not owing our contractors who usually buy what we use from three sources, India, United Kingdom and the United States of America”, said Odunubi.
The Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon however disclosed that the problem facing the hospital, “is the issue of “our contractors having access to the amount of Foreign Exchange needed to make importation of the devices we need in most of the departments.
“We have three companies which supply us implants and none of them have been able to supply us for a while now, all claiming non-access to foreign exchange”, said Odunubi.
He however gave assurances that the delay in carrying out total knee joint replacement and hip surgeries would soon be over saying, “we have just received words from our Contractors that there is hope now and some implants would soon be air lifted to the country, which means those whose surgeries have been shelved may soon get reprieve”.
A patient’s relation Mrs. Tosin Oludara who spoke on behalf of her aged 63- year old mother, said, “we offered to procure a hip implant made in China for my mother’s surgery because she is always in pain, but was advised against the idea by the Consultant.
According to Odunubi, “We do not as an Institution ‘make use implants from China for our patients’ knee and hip surgery for obvious reasons”.
He noted, “The brands of implants from the three countries of UK, India and US are what our Surgeons have been trained and familiar with over the years, those are the ones we buy and stock for use on our patients and patients have fared well using the brands from these countries.
“We cannot just take devices from other countries because patients have access or can afford them, we have protocols we follow”, explained Odunubi.
However, the shortage of medical devices as a result of non-availability of forex is not limited to NOHI.
Our Correspondent gathered that Lagos State owned University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH) is also experiencing shortage of some drugs and consumables as contractors are also shifting inability to make supplies available on lack of foreign exchange.
Chief Medical Director, Professor Wale Oke, told Healthstyleplus Online, that the hospital management has been experience challenges in getting contractors to make adequate supplies of drugs and consumables as they blame the shortages on high exchange rates and inability to source for sufficient funds for importation of consumables.
At the NOHI the cost of knee joint and hip replacement before now ranges from N900, 000 to N1.2m depending on the size of implant to be used while at LASUTH cost of total knee replacement surgery ranges between N1m and N1.3m.
Whereas NOHI stocks implants and patients make purchases from the hospital store, the Orthopeadic unit of LASUTH does not store such devices for knees and hips said a Consultant Surgeon.
“Whenever our patients need to undergo either total knee replacement surgery or hup replacement, we ask them to make their purchases from among two brands-Smith & Nephew, which is UK/South Africa or Scorpio from India”, said the Surgeon.
According to him, “the reason is simply because these are tested brands and we are very sure of their quality, moreover, for each implant, their manufacturer would need to provide their equipment for the surgery and our doctors are already trained”, the Surgeon pointed out.