5 went to same doctor before death

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2007, 12:00am

Inquest hears elderly patients without diabetes died with low blood glucose levels

Five elderly patients had consulted Wong Tai Sin practitioner Ronald Li Sai-lai before they died, a coroner's hearing was told yesterday.

Four of the five were found to have low blood glucose levels, although none had a history of diabetes, the court heard.

The inquest was started yesterday into the deaths of Zee Kuo-foong, 83, Yeung Kim-ching, 86, Wan Yau-kiu, 69, Cho Yim-fong, 72, and Fan Chu, 80, who died in 2005. All had been patients of Dr Li, whose clinic was the subject of a widespread investigation by the health department in May 2005 after two of his patients were admitted to hospital with low glucose levels.

More than 150 patients were traced in that investigation, including the five who died.

Medical reports read to the court showed that Zee, Yeung, Wan and Fan had low glucose levels.

All five lived in Chuk Yuen estate, where Dr Li ran a clinic in a nearby shopping centre.

Zee's daughter, Zee Siu-fung, said her father's health had been good apart from lung surgery three decades ago. She and her elder sister found him unconscious on the floor of his sitting room on April 25, 2005.

At Queen Elizabeth Hospital, a doctor asked whether her father had a history of diabetes after a low blood glucose level was detected.

Ms Zee was further asked to get his medical records and the medication prescribed from Dr Li's clinic. When she went to the clinic to retrieve the records, she learned that her father had consulted Dr Li two days before being admitted to hospital for stomach ailments.

'But he didn't mention the drugs that were prescribed to him in that consultation,' she said.

A letter stating Zee's medical history and medication was given to her upon request. Zee was certified dead on May 2, seven days after being admitted to hospital.

The court also heard from family members of the other four that the deceased had all consulted Dr Li some time before their admission to hospital. They later developed similar symptoms of weakness and loss of appetite.

Coroner's officer Stewart Hau told the court that two drugs would be mentioned later in the hearing.

One was Glyclizide, also known as Diamicron, a diabetes drug. The other was Simethicone, also called Dimethicone, an antacid prescribed for stomach complaints. Seventeen witnesses will be called during the hearing, which is expected to last six to seven days.

Apart from family members of the deceased, other witnesses include Dr Li's clinic assistants, sales representatives of the drug company who are scheduled to give evidence today, pathologists, pharmacy representatives, doctors and medical experts.

The hearing continues today before coroner William Lam Kui-po and five jurors.