Hospital chief defends suspension of top surgeon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 4:03pm

A hospital chief on Tuesday defended the decision to suspend a veteran heart surgeon over concerns about his operating technique, saying the hospital could not afford to risk the health of any new patients.

Dr Fung Hong, chief executive of Prince of Wales Hospital, said 11 serious complications occurred in patients on whom Professor Yu Cheuk-man operated last year.

The operations were all considered high-risk. Four of the 11 patients eventually died, Fung told local radio.

The 11 cases in a row with technical problems made us really worried
Dr Fung Hong, Prince of Wales Hospital

“The 11 cases in a row with technical problems made us really worried,” he said. “We couldn’t afford to see [more such cases],” Fung said.

Fung also said Yu, a former head of cardiology of the hospital, had not fully trained for two types of high-risk operations he performed, but instead approved himself to perform them.

Yu has 23 years of experience and is also assistant dean of Chinese University’s faculty of medicine.

Fung said Yu’s suspension came after seven other doctors in an unprecedented move complained about the standard of operations performed by Yu. He rejected their claims saying they were part of a “power struggle” among doctors.

But “there are real concerns about his operations,” Fung said.

An investigation is being carried out by local and foreign experts who will look into Yu’s operational standards and work records, including surgical data.

Yu earlier said the handling of the complaints levelled against him deviated severely from usual hospital and international practice, and it was improper to suspend him before any investigation was completed.

He said the mortality rate of his patients cited earlier by the hospital was misleading.