Inquest fails to find if illness led to nurse's suicide

Coroner's Court returns open verdict on death of nurse who had been had been diagnosed with acute psychosis and was depressed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 3:46am

An inquest into the death of a nurse who was allegedly infatuated with the former head of the University of Hong Kong's department of surgery has failed to determine whether mental illness incurred at work had driven her to take her own life.

Kwan Miu-ying, a 38-year-old registered nurse at Tung Wah Hospital in Sheung Wan, fell to her death from a hospital building on June 14.

During the inquest, Kwan's mother, Li Kam-fung, urged the jury to consider whether Kwan had been driven to commit suicide due to mental illness caused by poor work arrangements set by the Hospital Authority.

She also accused Kwan's bosses of deliberately making life difficult for her and teasing her.

But the Coroner's Court returned an open verdict yesterday after the jury failed to determine unanimously whether her death was a suicide or an accident.

Kwan had been diagnosed with acute psychosis at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan in February last year after she claimed to have been "chased by ghosts".

The court heard that Kwan had developed feelings for surgeon Fan Sheung-tat - dubbed "the father of liver transplants" - and harassed him between 2008 and 2011. This included kissing him in a corridor at work and sneaking into his car. Fan said he rejected all her advances.

Though Fan was not Kwan's boss, both were working at Queen Mary Hospital at the time before her transfer to Tung Wah in 2011, following a request from her supervisors.

But at the new job, Kwan became "depressed" and repeatedly applied to be transferred back to Queen Mary, only to be turned down time and again, the inquest heard.

In late 2011, Kwan became unhappy that she was assigned to administrative work despite being a registered nurse.

The hospital rejected the accusations, saying Kwan had given them a doctor's note for a hip condition in October 2011, which recommended that she be assigned lighter workloads.

On one occasion, she also tried to submit a resignation letter to her supervisor, but later changed her mind.

A resignation letter and leave record were found on Kwan's body, but there was no suicide note. There was also no evidence of a struggle or foul play.