Man sues after bone infection is missed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 July, 2011, 12:00am


A man who was left unable to lift his head is suing the Hospital Authority for negligence after doctors failed to diagnose that his neck pain was a result of an infection in his vertebrae, despite six visits to an accident and emergency department.

Li Kuen-wai says the condition was dismissed as muscular pain or the effect of drugs until he collapsed at home and was rushed to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, where the correct diagnosis was made.

According to a writ filed in the High Court on Wednesday, a doctor told Li after an X-ray that his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae were infected by bacteria and the sixth and seventh had tilted back. Because of a lack of support, his chin had dropped to his chest and he had been unable to lift his head since.

Li is claiming an unspecified sum in compensation from the Hospital Authority over negligent treatment by it or its agents between March 11 and March 23, 2008.

The Hospital Authority said it would not comment on the case or give information on Li's condition as legal proceedings had begun.

Li said he first felt neck pain after fellow passengers bumped into him on a train. Public doctors dismissed his condition as muscle pain or the effects of drugs.

Before he visited Prince of Wales Hospital's accident and emergency department for the sixth time, he felt something pressing his neck, causing him difficulty in breathing.

Li said he was referred to the psychiatric department for follow-up treatment.

Two days later, he fainted at home and was rushed to hospital.

As Li was weak from the waist down following a car crash, a doctor advised him not to undergo surgery on his neck for fear that he would fall into a coma after anaesthesia.

Li said he had previously suffered from a mood disorder and had tried to kill himself, but was rescued.