Doctors go to court over disciplinary decision

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am


The Medical Association is taking the unusual step of seeking to challenge in court a refusal by the Medical Council to review the decision of a disciplinary inquiry.

The association representing Hong Kong's doctors has applied for leave to lodge a judicial review after the regulatory body said that a review of a disciplinary decision could only be instigated by the panel that heard the inquiry, rather than the council as a whole.

The application stems from a case heard in February involving Dr Winnie Lwin, who was found guilty of misconduct. A seven-member panel found that Lwin had failed to identify a nodular lesion in a patient's lung after viewing an X-ray. Her name was removed from the doctors list for a month as punishment.

Ten doctors, including association president Choi Kin and vice-president Chan Yee-shing, both of whom heard the case as members of the disciplinary panel, wrote to council chairman Professor Felice Lieh Mak before she stepped down last month asking that the decision be reviewed. They claimed the panel's decision was wrong as its members had taken into account factors that were not relevant in reaching its decision. The council's secretary wrote back informing them that a review could only be instigated by the panel.

Section 21(4B) of the Medical Registration Ordinance states that the 'council' can, within 14 days of an inquiry, of its own initiative but not otherwise, review any decision or order made in the inquiry.

The association is unhappy that the Medical Council took the word 'council' to mean the panel that conducted the inquiry.

Johannes Chan Man-mum, SC, for the association, said the section of the ordinance should be read to mean that the power is vested in the full council.

The Medical Council would not comment on the application.