Background: Historically, the Rod of Asclepius is considered as the correct symbol of Medicine. Unfortunately, many medical/health institutions in the world have erroneously interchanged the Rod of Asclepius symbol with erroneous symbols (e.g. Caduceus) to depict Medicine. This study aims to assess the official logos (i.e. institutional symbols) of university teaching hospitals in Nigeria and determine if these logos actually depict the true symbol of Medicine.
Methods: This study was a cross-sectional online survey of teaching hospitals in Nigeria on their official logos. A total of 40,556 operating hospitals and clinics in Nigeria were identified. After systematic screening, a total of 35 hospitals were identified as university teaching hospitals and used for the survey. Official information about the geopolitical zone, ownership and official logo of the selected hospitals was obtained (via online and offline search). Data collected was analysed using SPSS version 22 software.
Results: Out of the 35 surveyed university teaching hospitals, only 7 did not have snake(s) as part of their official logo. However, out of the remaining 28 hospitals that have snake(s) as part of their official logos, only 57.1% (16/28) of them have only one snake in their logo. Exactly half of the surveyed hospitals having logos with two entwined snakes (i.e. Caduceus) were owned by the federal government. Bivariate analysis showed that there exists statistically significant relationship between the geopolitical zone where a hospital is situated and the number of entwined snakes indicated in their official logo (p-value=0.034).
Conclusion: This study shows that the correct symbol of Medicine is not universally indicated in the official logos of the university teaching hospitals in Nigeria.