Blind Macau woman sues, alleging negligence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2012, 12:00am

A woman from Macau is suing an eye specialist and the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital for negligence over treatment she had in 2005.

The doctor and the hospital both reject the claim. Dr Kwok Kwan-ho, former chairman of the Hong Kong Ophthalmological Society, told the South China Morning Post the woman was legally blind when she was admitted to the Happy Valley private hospital.

Wong Ieok-hei, 20, filed her claim to the High Court yesterday, seeking compensation from the doctor and hospital over 'negligent medical treatment' from Kwok and and other employees in May and June 2005. No further details are given in the court document.

In 2005, Wong, then 14, suffered from uveitis, or inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye, Chinese-language media have reported. Her father brought her from Macau to consult Kwok at the hospital's ophthalmology department.

Kwok is reported as having told them the inflammation could be treated by steroid eye drops alone and refused to prescribe oral steroids. But the girl's condition deteriorated and she became almost blind.

When she was admitted to the hospital in May 2005, she could still see people waving in front of her, but when she was discharged the following month, she could make out only light and shade, news reports said.

'This is a very sad case. Each of our doctors [at the hospital] gave the utmost effort to treat her,' said Kwok, who still practises at the hospital.

He and about six other doctors who were on the case were concerned about the patient's well-being as she was weak and thin when she was admitted to the hospital, he said.

Kwok said the girl later secured legal aid to pursue a claim of negligent treatment, but the case was closed after experts she consulted considered there was no basis for her claim.

The doctor said Wong had been treated with steroids in Macau for a few months without improvement before she came to Hong Kong for treatment. He said Wong's doctor ceased prescribing steroids because they needed to carry out tests on her to confirm the cause of the condition. They were also worried that her condition was caused by infection, so steroids, which suppress the immune system, had to be stopped.

Dr Joseph Chan Woon-tong, the hospital's deputy medical superintendent, said: 'I believe what the doctors and the hospital did was in the best interest of the patient.'