Doctor's appeal on medical sanction thrown out

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am

A neurologist who charged a patient HK$5,000 for a consultation over the phone then claimed he had actually met the man in person has had his appeal against the Medical Council sanction thrown out.

In May 2007, the council handed down a three-month suspension of Dr Fong Ka-yeung from the general registry, suspended for 12 months. Fong falsely claimed in a letter to BUPA Health Insurance that he saw patient Graham Black on March 26, 2004, and charged him HK$5,000 for a special consultation.

At the Court of Appeal, Adrian Huggins SC argued that the council, in finding Fong guilty of misconduct, applied a wrong standard of proof.

But the court disagreed. Mr Justice Peter Cheung Chak-yau, delivering the unanimous decision, said: 'The understanding by the Medical Council of the need for compelling evidence is clearly reflected in its acquittal of Dr Fong on the two other charges that he faced.'

The council found Fong guilty of professional misconduct for falsely claiming that he saw Black on two days, and charging him for daily in-patient care for those days. Black was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and had a magnetic resonance imaging scan at the Adventist Hospital. The council then said the only reason Fong varied his standard HK$2,700 charge was to cover up his mistake.

The court also rejected Huggins' argument that the council and its legal adviser, by failing to elicit responses from the doctor over the three matters, had reduced the value of the council's fair and proper evaluation of Fong's case.

Huggins said if these matters had been put to Fong, he would have had an opportunity to answer them.

But Cheung said the council was not required to put to the doctor the issue of his attempt to cover up the mistake of a face-to-face consultation. He said it was entitled to draw the conclusion based on the facts.

The appeal was heard before Cheung, along with Mrs Justice Doreen Le Pichon and Madam Justice Susan Kwan Shuk-hing.