Doctor avoids ban for tainted medicine

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am

The Medical Council ruled yesterday that a doctor who dispensed alcohol-contaminated medicine to a child be removed from the General Register for two months, but suspended the order for 12 months.

At a council disciplinary inquiry, Yeung Siu-man pleaded guilty to having been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment.

Tuen Mun Court fined Dr Yeung HK$5,000 in October 2007 after convicting him of selling a drug not fit for human consumption.

The council found Dr Yeung guilty of the charge, and stressed that all doctors had a personal duty to ensure the preparation and dispensing of medicines was done properly. Dr Yeung refused to comment on the judgment.

In 2006, a three-year-old girl at Dr Yeung's clinic at Richland Garden, Tuen Mun, was given asthma medicine mixed with a toxic alcohol meant for external use.

Tests found the concentration of isopropyl alcohol in the syrup was 69 per cent. After taking a dose of the medicine, the girl was sent to Tuen Mun Hospital suffering from a sore throat and intense coughing.

Her father noticed the syrup smelled of alcohol and that it was flammable.

The mix-up happened when a clinical assistant was transferring the asthma medicine into smaller bottles.

Dr Yeung's lawyer said that his client had demonstrated he was a responsible doctor by following up immediately when informed of the case.

He had checked patient records to see if any others had been given the contaminated syrup.

The medic also implemented measures, such as labelling all liquids for external use and keeping records of liquid transfers, to prevent a reoccurrence.

The council accepted that the patient had not suffered serious harm, but noted that much more serious consequences would have occurred if the patient's father had not noticed the odour of alcohol.