Doctor gets one-month suspension

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2007, 12:00am

Private clinic dispenses wrong medicine to diabetic patient

A doctor was suspended from practising for one month after wrongly giving a long-term diabetic patient medicine for high blood pressure.

Dr Shum's licence will be suspended in one year.

Shum Pik-yan, who ran a private clinic in Tseung Kwan O from 2005 to last year, was accused of failing to check the medicine given to Lau Koon-wah, a long-term diabetic, after two nurses dispensed a type of blood pressure drug instead of the diabetic medicine prescribed on September 25, 2005.

Mr Lau discovered the mistake one month later when he picked up more medicine from the clinic and compared it with the one given earlier.

'I found they were two different kinds of drugs, although they look very similar in the packaging, shape and size,' said Mr Lau, at the Medical Council disciplinary hearing yesterday.

Mr Lau was then examined by Dr Shum and two other doctors.

Their examinations showed there had been no significant harm to his health.

'But I felt so upset and confused,' said Mr Lau.

'I raised this case with the Medical Council so that this kind of error would not happen again to other patients.'

Dr Shum, who works for private medical network United Medical Practice, said the medicine for Mr Lau was double-checked by the clinic's two nurses which was in line with the double-checking practice UMP recommends.

According to the UMP code of conduct, the doctor or the on-duty supervisor should check medicines before they are given to patients.

However, the Professional Code and Conduct amended by the Medical Council in August 2005 stressed that it is the doctor's personal responsibility to ensure that the drugs dispensed are strictly in accordance with the prescription.

Choi Kin, the Medical Association president who chaired the hearing, said it was bad practice for doctors not to double-check the medicines themselves.

'The defendant is lucky as the error didn't have a big impact on the patient,' he said.

'But similar mistakes are likely to lead to very serious consequences.'

Tse Hung-hing, of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, said the government should regulate private medical groups.

'This case is an example of the management problems possible in these medical groups, which should be addressed as soon as possible,' he said.