PART OF A YEAR'S WORKLOAD FOR A BUSY DEPARTMENT
Here are two cases which the Ombudsman investigated during the past year: The Hospital Authority was accused of failing to properly treat a patient and persuading him to sign a form saying he had discharged himself against medical advice.
The patient said he was asked to sign the form after he was admitted to hospital on March 8 this year. The Hospital Authority said the man had neck pain and limb weakness, and a deformed lower spine. His blood pressure was twice found to be normal.
As the man was not a Hong Kong citizen and the problem not an emergency, he was advised to seek treatment in his own country. The patient agreed, according to the authority. He was admitted again on March 12 with a headache and 'excessively high blood pressure' and was discharged early on March 13.
The Ombudsman could not substantiate the complaint about inappropriate treatment, but found the authority's explanations about the discharge form 'inconsistent and unconvincing'. 'It would be fairer to say that the complainant was discharged 'on' rather than 'against' medical advice,' the Ombudsman concluded. The authority should review the 'Discharge Against Medical Advice' form guidelines and keep better records, he found.
The Lands Department was accused of allowing a developer to tear up a footpath without consulting residents.
New Territories villagers complained in September 1995 about a developer who planned to remove a footpath near their homes. They were advised by the district lands officer the following month that the developer had been told the path was on government land and not to encroach on it. However, two years later, the footpath was removed.
The Ombudsman found no objections were raised when the development was planned because a site map did not indicate construction would encroach on the footpath. However, the residents had 'a reasonable expectation' that the district lands officer would 'honour his words', and he should have visited the site, the Ombudsman found.
The complaint was substantiated, and the Director of Lands ordered to ensure the footpath and access to it was maintained.