Court awards damages against top doctor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 5:32pm

A prominent paediatrician must pay HK$314,608 in compensation for treatment that resulted in the amputation of a baby’s fingertip, the High Court ruled on Tuesday morning.

The damages awarded against Dr Alvin Chan Yee-shing were far less than the HK$6 million claim sought by the child’s parents, but higher than the HK$260,000 that Chan had said he was willing to pay.

Bosco Law Yin-pok, now 4½ years old, had the tip of his right ring finger amputated after Chan inspecting the baby’s wound when Bosco was 14 months old, Deputy High Court Justice Conrad Seagroat said in his judgment. Chan is a private paediatric specialist and vice-president of the Hong Kong Medical Association.

The accident happened on August 10, 2009, when Bosco caught and injured his finger in an iron gate as he was being pushed along in a stroller. He was rushed to hospital, where Chan treated the wound with a medical adhesive and bandage.

Chan failed to inspect the wound for the next several days, a liability Chan “wisely” admitted, according to the judgment. By the time Chan opened the bandage, gangrene had set in, and about half the finger was amputated on September 30.

The boy had to spend more than two weeks in hospital under antibiotic treatment.

The compensation order covered the boy’s pain and suffering and loss of amenity, expenses and occupational therapy, prosthesis, psychological counselling and other items.

But the judge denied the parents’ claim to compensation for loss of future earnings. The boy might lose some dexterity in his right hand, but the young are known for adapting quickly to physical limitations, he ruled.

“I do not foresee any realistic interference with his future job prospects,” the judge wrote.

The parents are separately claiming more than HK$4 million for their own psychological trauma from the incident, which will be dealt with in a separate hearing.