Man-made Mistakes or Allergies May Have Been Behind Medical Incident, Hong Kong Union Hospital Chief Says

Incident happens as government prepares new legislation increasing supervision over private hospitals, including much tougher fines for breaching rules.


The medical incident at Union Hospital was reported on 13/03/16. Photo: Felix Wong

There could be man-made mistakes and other reasons behind the latest medical incident in which a 25-year-old patient suffered cardiac arrest during a low-risk ankle operation at a private hospital, the Union Hospital chief told the South China Morning Post.

Chief hospital manager and medical director Dr Anthony Lee Kai-yiu also said it was possible the patient, who was later sent to a public hospital for intensive care, had underlying health problems such as allergies.

The incident came as health officials were preparing a bill to tighten supervision over private hospitals and boost their quality.

The maximum penalty for private hospitals failing to comply with regulations is now just HK$2,000.

The new law, expected to be submitted to the Legislative Council in the next term, will raise the maximum fine to HK$5 million. The hospital’s operating licence could also be cancelled and its operator jailed for two years.

Responding to the latest incident, Dr Lee told the Post : “After the incident, the Department of Health investigated the operating theatre and facilities and found no irregularities.

“That means no problem was found in the hospital. It is possible that there was a man-made mistake, or that the patient suffered from an underlying health problem.”

The male patient was in critical condition in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan on Monday.

Lee said he was in good health before the surgery, but known to have certain allergies in the past. He said there was a possibility that he was allergic to medicine used in anaesthesia.

Two private practitioners responsible for the endoscopia ankle surgery, an orthopaedic specialist and an anaesthetist, were contract doctors with the Sha Tin hospital, meaning they were not its employees but were allowed to rent its operating theatre and other facilities.

Lee said it was the two doctors’ decision to transfer the patient to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further treatment, even though there were intensive care facilities at Union Hospital.

Union Hospital reported the incident to the Department of Health on March 4, two days after it took place. It will submit a detailed report to the department in four weeks.

But the incident was only made public by the department on [13 March 2016] after media inquiries.

Last year, five serious incidents in private hospitals were reported to the department.

Patients’ Rights Association spokesman Tim Pang Hung-cheong said the department should make the cases public as soon as possible, in the same way that blunders in public hospitals were handled.

Lee, also the chairman of the Private Hospital Association, agreed that the government should adopt the same system as in the public sector since the cases were important for learning purposes.

He also believed it was necessary for the government to increase its supervision over private hospitals through the new law as current supervision was too lax and outdated.


Source: South China Morning Post



Man-made Mistakes or Allergies May Have Been Behind Medical Incident, Hong Kong Union Hospital Chief Says

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