Doctor charged for not checking on patient after surgery

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 2:53am

A private surgeon charged with professional misconduct believed there was no need to examine his patient before discharging him despite his complaints of pain after surgery.

"I was under the impression he was in fairly good condition," Dr Chan Po-sum told the Medical Council in a hearing yesterday.

The patient - who had undergone an operation to remove haemorrhoids - was later found to be suffering from peritoneum inflammation, a potentially fatal condition. His rectal wall was also penetrated, the council heard.

Chan was charged with failing to properly examine his patient and to look into his repeated complaints of pain after the haemorrhoid removal procedure the man underwent at St Teresa's Hospital in February 2010.

The patient could not pass urine on his own and complained of abdominal pain after the surgery, but Chan said that from observing the man's way of walking and talking the day after the operation, he decided further checks on his rectum or abdomen were not necessary before discharging him.

Over the next two days, the patient called Chan's clinic twice complaining of more abdominal discomfort and other problems, but Chan only gave him instructions through his nurse.

It was only a week later that the patient finally visited Tseung Kwan O Hospital, where his rectal perforation and peritonitis were discovered and he underwent another surgery.

Chan was also charged with failing to obtain informed consent from his patient before the operation. He admitted he did not mention the less than one per cent risk of rectal perforation.

"Talking to a patient is as much as an art as a skill," Chan said, adding that he was under the impression that the patient already knew a lot about the surgery's possible complications.

The hearing continues before the Medical Council.