The United Christian Hospital (UCH) is under fire for the delay in the disclosure of a medical blunder that led to the serious deterioration of a patient’s condition, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The patient, 43-year-old Tang Kwai-sze, remains in a critical condition at the Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) after suffering from acute liver failure that required two liver transplants.
The UCH doctors had failed to prescribed Tang with antiviral drugs to go with the steroid being given to treat her mild kidney condition, although it was stated clearly on her medical records that she is a Hepatitis B virus carrier.
The steroid treatment had made the patient more prone to infections, but the antiviral drugs could have worked to prevent such infections.
The UCH staff failed to disclose the medical blunder, and only did so after the patient’s daughter Michelle demanded on April 19 to know why her mother’s health had suddenly deteriorated.
Dr. Kelvin Ng Kwok-chai of the QMH told a radio interview on Wednesday that they immediately figured out the problem after looking at the Tang’s medical records when she was admitted to QMH on April 5.
However, Ng said, the UCH had not notified them about the mistake throughout the whole incident while his team’s focus was on saving Tang’s life.
Ng denied that the Hospital Authority (HA) was trying to make amends by moving up Tang’s priority on the liver transplant waiting list after knowing about the mistake committed by the UCH staff.
The UCH has formed a six-member investigative panel, with Kowloon East Cluster representatives Chan Tak-mao and Lau Ip-tim as co-chairs, to look into the case.
Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man described the case as a serious medical incident.
He said he has requested the HA to find other suitable candidates for the panel other than doctors from the Kowloon East Cluster and to include more university professors or HA board members to boost the credibility of the inquiry.
UCH chief executive Chui Tak-yi and department of medicine and geriatrics chief Kung Kam-ngai have issued a public apology regarding the matter.
HA chief executive Leung Pak-yin said on Wednesday that the UCH staff were unable to disclose the medical error immediately because one of the doctors was away on holiday until May 7 while the patient’s daughter, Michelle, had been taking her HKDSE exams at the time.
He admitted, though, that the UCH had not reported the incident within 24 hours as required, and had failed to follow the protocols in reporting serious medical incidents.
Leung believes there is room for improvement within the system, but thinks there was no cover-up on the part of the UCH staff.
Leung also mentioned that the Clinical Management System should have prompted warning messages during Tang’s treatment but her doctors reported that they “overlooked the warning messages for unknown reasons”.
Tang remains in a critical condition, having to rely on artificial lungs and dialysis after a fungal infection.
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