Doctor struck off for failing to spot defective gene in foetus

An obstetrician was barred from practising for three months yesterday after he was found guilty of failing to carry out proper ultrasound screening on a patient who gave birth to a baby with a detectable genetic disorder.

Dr Leung Kai-hong, a doctor for 35 years, was struck off from the General Register for three months after the Medical Council found him guilty of professional misconduct.

An expert witness told the council it would be dangerous to allow him to practise with his level of competence.

However, defence solicitor Julienne Jen, who accepted the finding for his client, said Dr Leung had already closed his private clinic and retired in February after receiving notice that he was under investigation.

Dr Leung was not at the hearing. He was found to have disregarded his professional responsibility towards a pregnant patient surnamed Yu, who was under his care from January 8 to June 10 last year and who he suspected carried the defective gene that causes thalassaemia, a potentially fatal condition. The baby died shortly after birth.

Expert witness Dr Lam Yung-hang, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong's department of obstetrics and gynaecology, said an ultrasound 'performed by somebody experienced' on a foetus as early as 18 weeks could have detected the genetic abnormality.


Dr Leung, a recognised specialist since 1995, performed seven ultrasound screenings on Ms Yu at the Union Hospital without detecting the problem.

Dr Lam said Dr Leung, who graduated from the University of Hong Kong in 1965, also failed to perform a blood test on Ms Yu's husband to check for the defective gene.

If both parents carry the thalassaemia genes, they stand a one in four chance of having a baby with thalassaemia major, which causes severe anaemia, said Dr Lam.

Asked by council member Dr David Fang Jin-sheng if it would be dangerous to allow Dr Leung to practise, Dr Lam replied: 'It will be dangerous.'


A baby born with thalassaemia major would either die immediately after birth or require daily blood transfusions for the rest of its life.