Mother sues hospital for HK$10m

The Hospital Authority is being sued for more than HK$10 million for alleged negligence by its surgeons during surgery to correct two congenital heart defects that left a baby boy unable to move his feet.

Irene Tang Oi-lin is seeking the damages after her son was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury as a result of blood deficiency after two operations at Grantham Hospital.

The second was performed to cut a ligature inserted during the first operation.

Ms Tang failed yesterday in an application for an interim payment of HK$1.64 million, with Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes saying that the hospital's liability was 'far from a foregone conclusion'.

The court heard that the boy, born in 1998, had extensive surgery on May 26, 1999, to close a hole between the left and right ventricles and to rectify a condition in which a duct that supplies blood to the fetus fails to close after birth.

The team was led by Cheng Lik-cheung, the chief of service of the hospital's cardiothoracic surgery department, assisted by Jan Lee, then a senior consultant specialising in paediatric cardiac surgery.

After the operation the boy was found to have no femoral pulse - relating to the lower limbs - and the second operation was performed three hours later through the original incision to reverse the procedure on the duct.

Ms Tang, on behalf of her son, alleges medical negligence in the first operation. Expert evidence was collected and presented to the High Court by both parties for a determination on Ms Tang's application for an interim payment.

Dismissing it, Mr Justice Reyes said the evidence struck him as finely balanced.

'Liability is far from a foregone conclusion,' he said, adding that he was unable to accede to an interim payment.

'I have every sympathy with [the child's] condition. Nonetheless, I am also acutely aware that professional reputations are at stake here.'