Family of disabled girl claim doctor ‘too junior and inexperienced’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 5:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 5:24pm

A family is claiming more than HK$30 million in compensation after their daughter was left quadriplegic and mentally retarded by a medical procedure that went awry, the High Court heard yesterday.

Yuen Hiu-tung, now 12, suffered brain damage at Queen Mary Hospital in October 2001, when she was about 10 months old.

She was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties and acute bronchiolitis – an illness of the respiratory tract – the court heard. The brain damage occurred, her lawyers said, when doctors at the public hospital used a breathing tube – or intubation – improperly.

Michael Ozorio SC, for Hiu-tung, said the girl’s lung collapsed because the doctor who did the breathing-tube procedure was “too junior and inexperienced”. The doctor applied too much force while pushing air into Hiu-tung’s lung by squeezing a bag-like apparatus, he said.

The girl’s lung collapse triggered two heart attacks, which in turn caused her brain damage, the court heard. At one point Hiu-tung’s condition was so serious that she needed resuscitation.

Appearing in court yesterday, Hiu-tung could barely talk and required close care from her mother and grandmother.

The Hospital Authority is expected to argue that the doctors were not negligent, because a collapsed lung is a known complication arising from intubation.

The case continues before Mr Justice Mohan Bharwaney.