Anti-graft guide for Chinese medicine practitioners launched

ICAC issues comprehensive checklist for practitioners and staff, who it says are often in the dark when it comes to avoiding corruption

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 9:24am

The city's graft-buster has launched a corruption prevention guide for Chinese medicine practitioners and clinics, advising them on how best to deal with situations that put them in danger of corruption.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption said Chinese medicine clinics often did not give their workers clear guidelines on how to handle conflicts of interest in areas such as procuring medicine and handling their appointment bookings.

Many independent Chinese medicine practitioners also lacked the knowledge and resources to enforce integrity management, the agency said.

"While corruption in the industry is not serious and the number of prosecutions against those guilty of it remains low, we have launched this guide as a preventive measure to enhance the industry's integrity management," Professor Cindy Lam Lo-kuen said.

Lam is a member of the Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee and head of the University of Hong Kong's family medicine and primary care department.

As part of the launch of the guide, a corruption prevention checklist was mailed to the city's 9,600 independent Chinese medicine practitioners.

The checklist includes points to note in handling situations such as referring patients to other clinics, issuing medical certificates and procuring medicine.

All the recommendations were feasible and required few resources to implement, said Kenneth Wong Kwok-hung, the principal officer in the ICAC's corruption prevention department.

Lam said past cases of Chinese medicine practitioners found guilty of selling bogus medical certificates to patients could have stemmed from a low awareness of corruption prevention within the industry

"The guide covers common scenarios for potential corruption that frontline medical staff may face," she said. "Sometimes they may not be aware of it or may even think it is for the benefit of the patients."

In April last year, 36 people - including four Chinese medicine practitioners - were arrested for selling fake sick notes for which patients paid between HK$3 and HK$80 without having to have a consultation.

Chinese medicine practitioners have been authorised to issue medical certificates since 2006.

In 2003, the graft-buster issued a similar corruption prevention guide to all the city's medical practitioners.

Chan Wing-kwong, chairman of the city's Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners Association, said most members believed the latest guide would improve integrity management within the industry.