Pok Oi Hospital, a public hospital in Yuen Long, is suspected of failing to give a male patient proper medication, which led to an infection that prevented him from undergoing a liver transplant, Apple Daily reports.
The hospital, however, said it had done nothing to jeopardize the patient’s life.
In August, the 53-year-old patient received treatment for abdominal pain and constipation before he was diagnosed with cirrhosis.
The hospital began to prescribe high doses of steroids for the patient on Sept. 3. As he showed symptoms of liver failure in mid-October, he was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital to wait for a liver transplant.
However, doctors at Queen Mary Hospital decided he was not suitable to have the operation last week because he was found to have contracted pneumocystis pneumonia, caused by a yeast-like fungus, which could lead to respiratory failure or even death.
The patient’s daughter said she was told her father had caught pneumonia because Pok Oi Hospital had not given him preventive antibiotics to lower the infection risk.
The patient is said to be in critical condition at the intensive care unit of Queen Mary Hospital, which has reported the case to the Hospital Authority.
An expert said studies have shown a patient who is treated with high doses of steroids is susceptible to pneumocystis, but the risk can be lowered by giving him preventive antibiotics.
A spokesperson for Pok Oi Hospital said current clinical guidelines do not require simultaneous use of preventive antibiotics and high doses of steroids for liver diseases, and that such an action depends on the doctor’s discretion.
The hospital would contact the patient’s family to explain the situation, the spokesperson said.
Alex Lam Chi-yau, a lawyer who chairs Hong Kong Patients’ Voices, said it is hard to judge at the moment if Pok Oi Hospital had made a mistake.
He urged the government to continue following up on the case and find out whether there were other factors involved, such as understaffing.
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