Pregnant nurse 'attacked' by anaesthetist files complaint to police

Health department confirms it is following up incident in Adventist Hospital operating room, but says it is following its own protocols

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 10:37am

More details came to light concerning the alleged assault by an anaesthetist on a pregnant nurse in an operating room, as the health department followed up on a report in yesterday's South China Morning Post.

A patient at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital was on an operating trolley, awaiting a colonoscopy, when the doctor rammed the trolley into a theatre nurse, who was nine-weeks pregnant, according to another doctor at the hospital who preferred to remain anonymous.

The source, who spoke up yesterday after seeing the Post's report, said the patient was not harmed, but witnessed the act of violence.

"It was highly unprofessional for the doctor to lose his temper and turn violent while on duty", the source said. "It endangered the safety of the patient and the staff member."

A Department of Health spokesman said the patient was unharmed and the procedure continued as scheduled. The hospital confirmed the victim had filed a report to the police.

Both the original source and the second doctor confirmed the doctor involved was private anaesthetist Jonathan Paul Kornberg, who could not be reached for comment last night.

They pointed out this was not the first incident involving the anaesthetist and his partnering surgeon, who had been put on "probation" for two years by the Adventist Hospital - meaning he had to be supervised whenever he performed a surgery.

But neither the department nor the hospital would say whether the anaesthetist had been reported to the Medical Council - which can strike off a doctor for professional misconduct, but only conducts a hearing upon receiving a complaint.

"Patients should be able to make an informed choice, but the hospital is not revealing any complaints until something goes wrong and it gets to the media," the doctor said.

"It becomes clearer that the doctor is suspected of professional misconduct when he endangered his patient's safety and turned violent against other staff," said Patients' Rights Association spokesman Tim Pang Hung-cheong.

The doctor suggested the health department, which monitors private hospitals, set up a register of complaints to observe medical practitioners' standards.

Pang agreed and said the private hospital had not done enough to ensure patients' safety and the transparency they needed to make an informed choice.

Adventist yesterday refused to confirm or deny the existence of the surgeon's probation or any complaints, adding that they had protocols for such incidents.

The alleged assault took place last Thursday and the nurse suffered bruising to her body but her unborn child was unharmed.