Medical practice has attained sufficient status to the extent that principles of law that are relevant to Medical Practice can now be examined under the concept of Medical Law. Medical law can therefore be described as the branch of law dealing with Medical Practice or the Medical Profession[1].

The functions of Medical Law therefore relates to identification of issues relating to or regulating the practice of Medicine. The essence of Medical Law or the kind of conduct required of a Medical Practitioner can be traced as far back as the sixth or fifth century B.C “the father of modern medicine” Hippocrates of Kos also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek Physician of the age of Pericles (Classical Greece) and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine he is referred to as the ‘father of modern medicine’ Hippocrates is commonly portrayed and credited with coining the Hippocratic Oath, still relevant and in use today.[2]

Hippocrates recognized the need for a code of conduct for practitioners of the act of healing and laid down the statement of code of medical ethics known as the oath of Hippocrates. This is a simple and modern declaration which a Medical practitioner makes and which he must adhere to in practice. It is meant to enable Medical and Dental Practitioners maintain a universally acceptable professional standard of practice as well as meet the demands of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria with regards to ethics of a professional practice[3].

It is of importance to note that prior to the advent of the British to Nigeria, the traditional method of healing was the predominant practice. However, with the advent of the British as Nigeria’s colonial over lord, came the missionaries who not only took care of the spiritualwell-being of Nigerians but also took interest in the health of the people. Maternity homes and dispensaries were established[4].

It should be pointed out that our traditional medicine is becoming more recognized in Nigeria. There is no specific law regulating traditional medicine beyond the general principles relating to liability in Criminal law, the law of Torts and the law of Contract.

The earliest indigenous medical practitioners were trained in British. Subsequently several other indigenous people travelled to various countries in the world for the purpose of acquiring education relating to medical practice. For a person to practice medicine, he must be professionally qualified through the process of University education and in accordance with the requirements of minimum standard requisite for attainment of this status. The process must be universally recognized & accepted[5].

The predominant Statute regulating medical practice in Nigeria is the Medical and Dental practitioner Act[6]which provides all the necessary framework for the establishment of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria for the purpose of registration of medical practitioners and Dental Surgeons and to provide for a disciplinary tribunal for the discipline of members. The functions and establishment of the Dental and Medical Council of Nigeria will be discussed in the course of this Essay. Apart from the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, a Medical Practitioner may also be liable criminally and may be asked to pay damages by way of civil remedy where it is discovered that the act or omission of the medical practitioner falls below expectation. Indeed in Denloye v Medical practitioners disciplinary committee[7] The court in this case pointed out the fact that where the nature of the act or omission of a medical practitioner amount to a crime, the regular law court must determine the criminal aspect of it before liability is determined under the Medical and Dental practitioners Act with respect to misconduct or infamous conduct.

Negligence occurs when a person is said to omit to do something which a reasonable man would do when he is guided by the factors which originally regulate human conduct or when he does something which a prudent and a reasonable man would not do[8].  It can also be defined as the breach of legal duty to take care which leads to damages[9].

While the duty in Contract arises from agreement between the parties, that in Tort is independent of agreement and imposed upon the parties by the Law. The duty in Tort may also be covered by that in Contract. In most cases of Negligence against Professionals and other skilled workers, the cause of action centers mainly on breach of Contract. In some instances, one may also sue in tort

[1]Yakubu J.A, Medical Law in Nigeria, (Demyaxs Press Ltd),2002,  Pg 1.

[2]>accessed on 27thjune 2016

[3]Yakubu J.A, Medical Law in Nigeria op cit page 2

[4]Yakubu J.A, Medical Law in Nigeria op citpage 3

[5] Ibid page 4

[6] Cap M8, Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004

[7] 1968) ALL N.L.R 308

[8]Aliyu V Aturu (1999)  7 NWLR pt  612  536

[9]Okin Biscuit ltd V Osho(2004) FWLR (pt 188) 1094

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