Doctor accused of overcharging brain patient

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am

Phone conversation billed as consultation, hearing is told

A doctor has been accused of issuing false documents about his attendance and overcharging a patient.

Fong Ka-yeung faced a Medical Council hearing over allegations that he claimed for a face-to-face consultation when he had spoken to the patient over the telephone, and of falsely stating that he saw the patient every day in hospital.

The council heard yesterday that he had charged Graham Black, a brain surgery patient, HK$2,700 daily for in-patient care from March 27 to 31, when he had not attended on March 28 and 30.

Mr Black, appearing as a witness, said he had received a magnetic resonance imaging scan at the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital on March 26, which was requested by Dr Fong, a visiting doctor at the hospital.

After the film came out, the radiologist called Dr Fong, who was busy in his clinic in Central at the time, to inform him about the result.

'Dr Fong then talked to me over the phone, saying I suffered hydrocephalus and that I needed an operation on the brain as soon as possible,' said Mr Black, a construction surveyor who works at a site office in the New Territories.

'I was shocked on hearing it ... the doctor didn't disclose more details but he told me to stay in the hospital that night and said the surgery should be carried out over the coming weekend.'

Mr Black underwent the operation on April 28 and was discharged from the hospital a week later.

'I remembered very clearly that Dr Fong didn't come to see me every day. Even when he dropped by, what he said was only something like 'how are you doing', 'good', and 'bye-bye',' he recalled.

There were no medical records of prescriptions made by the doctor on March 28 and 30, he said, suggesting that the doctor had not visited him.

After paying about HK$300,000 for the surgery and treatment, he was informed by his insurance company that there might be some duplications or mistakes in the hospital charges.

Dr Fong told the council he did meet Mr Black in person in the hospital at night on March 26 after he had dealt with all his patients in the clinic.

'It is impossible for me to talk about the surgery options and hospitalisation matters with my patients over the phone. As it usually takes quite a long time, I would always like to meet the patient in person,' said the doctor, who specialises in neurology.

He recalled that he met Mr Black and his fiancee in a vacant patient room, explaining the two possible surgery options to them and helping them fill out the admission form.

He also insisted that he went to see the patient daily during that period, including March 28 and 30 when he was seen to visit several other patients in the hospital.

The Medical Council is expected to make its judgment today.