More than 80 patients misdiagnosed with Sars may have received a steroid treatment linked to serious bone degeneration, Legco heard yesterday. Senior Hospital Authority official Daisy Dai Siu-kwan told the Legislative Council's health services panel the estimate was based on hospital pharmacy records. The records show that some patients thought to have Sars were prescribed steroids and were later confirmed not to have had the disease. But she said some of those patients might have ignored the prescription and not taken the drug. 'We will check the medical records with the doctors [to see] whether those patients actually used the drug before we can confirm the figures,' Dr Dai told legislators. The authority would contact the 80-odd patients within three weeks to arrange follow-up diagnoses to check their health. A spokeswoman later said the authority did not have the figures for patients who had received screening for avascular necrosis, a rare bone disease linked to high steroid use. The disease causes degeneration or death of bone tissue due to a loss of blood supply. In severe cases it can cause immobility and require bone grafts or joint replacements. Fighting criticisms yesterday, Dr Dai insisted that the patients were diagnosed using World Health Organisation guidelines for identifying Sars. She said all recovered Sars patients and those who turned out not to have had the disease would receive follow-up diagnoses by January. Meanwhile, Tim Pang Hung-cheong, a spokesman for the Patients' Rights Association, said the organisation would help survivors and family members in 40 cases take legal action against the Hospital Authority. They include three patients who were misdiagnosed with Sars. Two of them were treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, according to Mr Pang. The Health, Welfare and Food Bureau has reversed its position by expanding the scope of its $155 million fund to include patients who were misdiagnosed with Sars and suffered from the side effects of their treatment. About a week ago, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong said the fund was set up exclusively for Sars patients who suffered from side effects of the treatment, as well as families of those who died during the outbreak.