Surgeon struck off for fatal mistake

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am


A veteran surgeon whose 'fundamental mistake' during an operation caused the death of a cancer patient has been struck off for a year.

The Medical Council yesterday found Dr Dominic Kam Chun-ming guilty of professional misconduct after he cut a crucial vein in the liver and the bile duct while removing part of a patient's stomach.

'It shouldn't have happened if the doctor exercised reasonable care,' council chairwoman Professor Felice Lieh Mak said, describing it as a fundamental mistake by the surgeon, who has since retired after practising for 40 years. The patient, Yoko Takeyama, 42, was diagnosed with gastric cancer in September 2006. She died at Queen Mary Hospital, seven days after the three-hour operation at the Adventist Hospital, Happy Valley, in October the same year.

Kam was sentenced to be removed from the general register for 12 months. The council said that although he had retired in 2009, the penalty was needed to maintain public confidence in the medical profession. The council said Kam had been unaware of the accidental cuts despite massive bleeding.

Professor Enders Ng Kwok-wai, of Chinese University's department of surgery, told the council that the patient would probably have survived less than a year without surgery.

The council reduced Kam's penalty from an initial 18 months as he was remorseful and had a clear record. He was found not guilty of failing to carry out a proper investigation of the patient's condition before the operation.