A Hong Kong judge has slammed the Medical Council over its handling of complaints against a pediatrician in relation to the treatment of a child six years ago.
High Court judge Kevin Zervos ruled on Monday that the Medical Council failed to address properly the complaints against Dr. Alvin Chan Yee-shing who was involved in a case that led to the amputation of a finger of a 14-month-old baby in 2009.
In August that year, Chan treated the infant for a wound and prescribed the amputation of a part of the child’s right ring finger to prevent the spread of infection.
Law’s parents later filed complaints with the Medical Council and asked for investigations into the doctor’s amputation decision.
Complaints were lodged in January 2010 and January 2013, but in both instances the Medical Council dismissed the complaints, saying there was insufficient evidence of professional misconduct on the part of Chan.
Although Chan was ordered to pay the family nearly HK$520,000 (US$67,095) as compensation in November 2012, the parents still challenged the council’s decisions and sought a judicial review.
Judge Zervos has now delivered a verdict, ruling that the Medical Council did not handle the complaints in a satisfactory manner.
He overturned the previous decisions made by the Council and told it to re-investigate the case as soon as possible, Apple Daily reported.
The judge ordered the matter be overseen by new officials at the Council and that the matter should be taken up within 30 days.
Zervos also instructed the Council to make sure that the investigations are fair by taking reference from the court’s suggestions and keeping in view Chan’s connection with the medical body.
The judge said in his verdict Monday that the then chairman and deputy chairman of the Medical Council went beyond their authority when looking at the evidence, as they tried to resolve the complaints by themselves rather than put the matter before an investigation panel.
Zervos criticized the procedures of the Council in handling complaints from the public against registered medical practitioners.
The procedures are defective, the judge said, also pointing to inadequate administrative and manpower support and the lack of appropriate guidelines, discipline and structure.
The Council said it respects the judge’s decision, but sought to defend itself by claiming that it has to deal with too many complaints.
Zervos said work load shouldn’t be an excuse for delays and improper processes. He urged the Council to take a fresh look at its internal procedures and improve the complaints resolution system.
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