Medical blunders

Hong Kong hospital probes alleged misdiagnosis of heart disease in case of woman who later died

Elderly woman died day after she was sent home in second possible medical blunder reported in past week at Tuen Mun Hospital

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 6:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 10:07pm

Tuen Mun Hospital is investigating a case which a 72-year-old woman died in June last year after medics allegedly misdiagnosed her heart disease as stomach ache.

The case is the second possible medical blunder involving the hospital reported over the past week. It was reported on Sunday that doctors in December thought an 81-year-old man had a sore throat, when in fact he had become infected with a flesh-eating disease.

The man died three days after seeking medical help.

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The latest case was revealed after the family of the dead woman, Tsui Sau-chun, complained to local media that the hospital had misdiagnosed Tsui’s pain as a stomach ache when she visited the emergency unit on June 9 last year, even though her top blood pressure reading exceeded 200 millimetres of mercury(mmHg), far higher than 140 mmHg, which is the figure defining high blood pressure.

“My mum was complaining about pain and her blood pressure was that high. Those could be symptoms of heart disease,” Tsui’s son told the Apple Daily newspaper.

Tsui died in the bathroom of her home the day after she visited the hospital. She was asked to leave the facility after staying there for about three hours.

Tsui’s son said the hospital confirmed his mother died of a heart attack and had two blocked blood vessels.

“How was it possible to ask her to go back home when her top blood pressure was 202mmHg?” he asked.

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A hospital spokesman said the facility had begun a thorough investigation.

“That will include a review of related medical records from the emergency department and getting a detailed account from the medical staff involved,” he said, adding that the result of the investigation would be explained to Tsui’s family later.

He said the hospital was upset over Tsui’s death and had reported the case to the Hospital Authority.

The hospital said Tsui, whose chronic conditions such as high blood pressure had been followed up in the general outpatient clinic, went to the hospital at around 7.30am on June 9 due to pain in her stomach and vomiting. Doctors thought her condition was linked to gastrointestinal problems and prescribed medicine.

The woman’s condition improved after taking medicine and having multiple check-ups and she was asked to leave at around 10.30am.

The Hospital Authority’s deputising director in charge of quality and safety, Dr Liu Shao-haei, said the most recent case was an unpleasant incident and the hospital would find out the reasons behind it and prevent similar cases happening again.

Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, who has been helping the family of the 81-year-old man, said the cases showed the hospital’s frontline staff had reached “breaking point”.

“Resources and manpower are lacking and the service could get worse,” Kwong warned.