Coroner recommends surgeons report injuries sustained during operations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 5:24pm

The coroner’s court found on Wednesday that HIV-infected Dr Wong Ho-hing died of suicide in January last year.

The 34-year-old doctor’s death was caused by injuries and not his HIV infection, though there were signs of his health deteriorating before his death, said Coroner Philip Wong Wai-kuen.

Although the surgeon at the Pamela Nethersole Eastern Hospital carried out operations until the day before his death, none of his patients were found to be infected by the virus, the court heard.

HIV could be transmitted through blood contact, which could occur if doctors cut or injured their hands enough to cause bleeding during surgery, putting patients at risk, said Wong.

He said he believed that reporting HIV infection should not be compulsory to protect the infected person’s privacy, but further measures were needed to protect patients.

“The present system relies on voluntary reporting. I don’t think this is enough to protect patients’ interests,” said Wong.

The Hospital Authority and Department of Health should make it compulsory for doctors to report any injuries they sustain during surgeries to protect patients from possible infections through blood contact, he said.

Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong, chief infection control officer at the Hospital Authority, testifying earlier said the current procedure was to encourage medical staff to report any incidents posing a possible risk of infection during procedures rather than punishing them for not coming forward.