No special treatment was given to pro-establishment lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, who has been accused of jumping the queue for a minor surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital at the end of May, an internal panel set up by the hospital to investigate the controversy has concluded.
But the doctor and two nurses who dealt with the patient were found to have deviated from guidance, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing the results of the investigation.
The panel said there is no evidence showing the hospital staff had been under any pressure, nor was there any interest or political considerations involved.
The controversy emerged after an anonymous post on a Facebook account for hospital staff suggested that the 66-year-old Tam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), was given special consideration for a minor operation involving the removal of a polyp in one of his ears, which could be done in a little more than 10 minutes.
The post also accused the hospital of allowing Tam and his wife to stay in a staff lounge where doctors and nurses can rest before and after the surgery.
Dr. Ho Hiu-fai, who led the panel, said the inquiry, which included interviews with a total of eight hospital employees, found that Tam met the doctor who later performed the surgery on him at a social event 10 days before he was arranged to undergo an examination on May 31, a time interval that is consistent with the normal period needed for such situation, which is about 14 days.
Ho said the doctor decided to do the surgery on the day set for the examination because one of the four operations scheduled for that day had been abruptly canceled, and the doctor considered it proper to give priority to Tam.
That was not tantamount to queue-jumping as it is normal practice for a hospital to perform a surgery that can be done quickly when there is a vacant operating room, Ho said, citing the conclusions of the panel.
However, Ho admitted that Tam was in fact given “much convenience” by his doctor who helped him make outpatient appointments.
In addition, Ho said it was neither appropriate nor necessary for the doctor to allow Tam and his wife to use the staff passageway, even though the two nurses claimed they did so out of goodwill as Tam is a public figure and in order to keep outpatient service in order.
Dr. Albert Lo, the hospital’s chief executive, said Tam’s doctor and the two nurses should be held responsible in the incident but none of them will be suspended from work as the incident did not affect the other operations in the hospital or the safety of other patients.
He said the hospital will take follow-up action as soon as it receives instructions from the Hospital Authority.
Meanwhile, Tam said in a statement on Tuesday that he has no comment on the investigation report, while DAB leader Starry Lee voiced support for Tam by saying that she believes in his integrity.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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