Hospital chiefs to set up probe into suspension
Move comes as former health minister says there may be other reasons behind action taken against heart specialist
Andrea Chen and Shirley Zhao
The Hospital Authority will set up an independent investigation into the suspension of a Prince of Wales Hospital cardiologist after he claimed politics was involved in the probe carried out by his hospital.
An independent committee consisting of authority members and foreign experts will look into the operations performed by the doctor and the hospital management, Undersecretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said yesterday.
Chan also urged the two investigation committees set up by the hospital to submit their reports to the Hospital Authority as soon as possible.
"This [the suspension of the cardiologist] is an isolated case. We hope it will not influence public confidence in public medical services," Chan said.
Doctor Yu Cheuk-man, the former head of cardiology at the hospital, has been banned from performing surgery since February after the hospital received complaints from other doctors about the quality of his work.
Hospital chief Executive Fung Hong said on Tuesday there had been 11 serious complications, including four deaths, among Yu's patients after heart operations, some of which were high-risk procedures.
A war of words has since broken out between Yu and the hospital over his training to perform high-risk procedures and the death of the four patients.
Former health minister York Chow Yat-ngok said the suspension of a veteran heart specialist revealed management and teamwork issues within the hospital.
He urged the various authorities to investigate and for all parties to "shut up".
"It's not just a simple question about a doctor's professional standards," Chow said.
He did not think the situation had been serious enough for the hospital to suspend Yu immediately and said there might have been other reasons behind the suspension.
The hospital said it had set up two investigating committees made up of local and foreign experts in April.
But Yu said on an RTHK radio programme yesterday morning that the committees' members were close to the doctors filing complaints against him and reported directly to Fung.
Yu also said less experienced doctors without accreditation from the manufacturer behind the devices used in the operations had started performing the heart procedures since his suspension.
"To my knowledge there have been six cases where the cardiologists performed the surgery without the supervision of foreign experts [which is required by the manufacturer], some of which had led to serious complications," Yu said.
Hospital Authority chief executive Leung Pak-yin said the authority could not make public the names of the experts involved in the two committees because it would compromise the independence of their investigations.
He also said the authority would follow up Yu's complaints against Fung and the management of the hospital.
Yu has said his suspension was made in an "organised and premeditated way".