Medical Neglect Equals Imprisonment…

This is actionable under articles 289 and 228 of the Cameroon Penal Code.

Legal experts say medical negligence is very difficult to establish or prove. But whenever it can be established, it is punishable in Cameroon’s courts of law. Barrister Calvin Ndangoh Tah, a Yaounde-based practitioner says when it comes to delivering a pregnant woman of a baby and which results in the death of the child or permanent incapacity this is actionable in a law court once it is proven. The legal expert says articles 289 and 228 are very instrumental in handling such a case.

Article 289 is to the effect that whoever causes the death, harm and permanent incapacity of a child negligently of without regard to medical procedure will be punished with imprisonment of from three months to five years or a fine of FCFA 10,000 to FCFA 500,000 or with both imprisonment and fine.

Barrister Tah notes that if one can establish that a medical doctor was negligent or did not respect procedure and this act or the non-respect of procedure caused the death of the child, the medical doctor will be criminally liable. According to Barrister Tah, article 228 of the Cameroon Penal Code considers medical negligence as a dangerous activity and whosoever does not take the necessary precautions and causes harm to a child is liable to punishment spelt out in the law.

However, the legal expert says it has been difficult when it comes to negligence by medical doctors. This is so because the negligent act of the doctor must be the cause of death or harm. “In other words, one must prove the causa nexus”, Barrister Tah underlined. He further explained that there must be a connection between the act of the medical personnel and the death or harm.

“This is what is very difficult to establish because of the need for an expert opinion which unfortunately the expert here is equally a medical doctor who might try to protect a colleague”, the Barrister explained. Infanticide is punishable if it can be proven just like any other crime.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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