Health

Treatment fairly new to me: doctor

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 2006, 12:00am

A doctor and former legislator has been accused of professional misconduct after a patient with a liver tumour died following therapy using radio waves.


According to charges being considered by the Medical Council of Hong Kong, Lam Kui-chun failed to advise his patient, 68-year-old Lo Tai, of his lack of experience with radio frequency ablation treatment, or RFA, and of the risks it involved.


In a written statement, Dr Lam said he had attended seminars about the new treatment. He had only performed it three times before overseeing his patient's second procedure in November, he said.


Lo died in Queen Mary Hospital 15 days after receiving a second round of RFA treatment in November 2001 in a procedure overseen by Dr Lam at Hong Kong's Central Hospital. Lo first received the treatment in June that year.


In treating liver cancer, the procedure is used to heat and destroy tumours by subjecting them to radio waves. While effective in reducing tumour size, RFA can be dangerous depending on the proximity of organs such as the gall bladder, colon, stomach and intestines, a five-member panel was told yesterday.


Simon Yu Chun-ho, a consultant radiologist at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, said RFA was a new procedure in 2001 and used primarily as a research tool. Only in 2003 was it used to treat liver tumours.


Dr Yu said that, 'while attending seminars would aid the understanding of this procedure, it's questionable as to whether it is sufficient'.


The case continues.