Couple fined HK$1,000 each for swearing at doctor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 5:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 5:28pm

A couple who swore at a doctor after waiting at a hospital emergency room for nearly two hours have been fined HK$1,000 each by Tuen Mun Court.

Wong Man-tik, 31, and Chow Tsz-kiu, 21, took their baby daughter to Tuen Mun Hospital seeking an emergency consultation around noon on April 18 last year, the court heard.

The couple became agitated after waiting for almost two hours. They shouted and swore at Dr Law Ping-keung and other staff, accusing him of "lacking doctors' ethics".

When police officers arrived, Wong said: "You police have only 30,000 men. I can also call up my men," the court heard.

Deputy Special Magistrate Simon Ho said: "The Cantonese swear words … the defendants used are derogatory to [Law] and other hospital staff, and what [Wong] said suggested he was capable of manoeuvring forces enough to oppose the police."

Wong, who has two daughters with his live-in girlfriend Chow, is a driver who earns HK$8,000 a month, the court heard.

Law told the court he had a large number of patients lined up as the other doctor on duty was busy on an emergency rescue. He said he felt scared by the couple's behaviour.

Both defendants denied the charge of using language likely to cause offence or annoyance to any person in a hospital - punishable by a fine of up to HK$2,000 and a one-month jail term.

More than a dozen cases of violence in public hospitals have been prosecuted in the past four years, data from the Hospital Authority shows.

The authority pledges to have 90 per cent of cases classified as "urgent" seen within half an hour, but the rate dipped to 84 per cent last year, the lowest in a decade.

The number of accident and emergency doctors in Hong Kong's public hospitals has fallen to 410, from 423 five years ago.

The Hospital Authority declined to disclose how urgent Wong and Chow's daughter's case was but welcomed the verdict, in a statement.

It said that since the case arose, the New Territories West hospitals group had devised a response procedure to prevent and handle violence at work.

The authority in 2007 set up a group to provide training and support to help staff cope with violence in hospital emergency rooms.

Kenneth Fu Kam-fung, head of the Public Doctors' Association, said in a statement that the association agreed with the verdict and that "verbal violence is not a solution to problems".

The association urged the government to enhance public education to ensure a safe working environment for medical staff, who are under immense pressure every day.