A United States doctor hired by the University of Hong Kong has been refused permission to practise by the Medical Council because it considers his area of expertise unorthodox. Dr David Chim is a practitioner of osteopathic medicine, which relies heavily on the manipulation of joints and bones to diagnose and treat illness. The rejection - the first time an application from the university's medical school has been turned down - has sparked a debate about whether such doctors should have the right to practise in the city. In the US, a trained DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine) is regarded as legally and professionally equivalent to an MD (doctor of medicine) The council made its decision this month after receiving an application for a 'limited registration' for Chim. Most overseas staff working with the two medical schools practise with limited registrations, meaning they can only work under set conditions and treat and prescribe drugs for university patients. Council member and president of the Hong Kong Medical Association Dr Choi Kin, who objected to granting the application, said: 'The Medical Council has a duty to safeguard the health of the public. To allow limited registration for an unorthodox profession would not be in line with the council's usual practice.' The HKU medical faculty will reapply to the council on Chim's behalf. Chim, who also has professional qualifications as a family doctor and in addiction medicine in the US, plans to help set up a clinic to treat adolescent addictions, including substance abuse, alcoholism and smoking. Another Medical Council member and former president of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, Dr Donald Li Kwok-tung, said: 'Doctors practising in Hong Kong should provide patient-centered care, taking culture and expectations into consideration. Osteopaths, although enjoying the same privileges as medical doctors in the US, adopt principles in their practice that may not match expectations of patients and peers in Hong Kong.' Chim, who joined the department of community medicine in January on a four-year contract, said it was unfortunate his application to practise in Hong Kong had been turned down based on 'misconception' and lack of information about osteopathic medicine. Chim said practitioners of osteopathic medicine in the US were different from osteopaths in other countries. For example, in Britain osteopaths received only limited medical training. He said his medical training was the same as that of other doctors, but he had received additional training in osteopathic medicine. 'Not having the registration in Hong Kong deters me from seeing patients for my clinical research,' he said. 'I am trying to help treat adolescents with high-risk behaviour such as drug abuse, alcoholism and smoking in a non-stigmatised primary care setting. 'I don't want to give up, and will reapply to the council.' Professor Cindy Lam Lo-kuen, head of family medicine at the University of Hong Kong and also a Medical Council member, said: 'Hong Kong people sometimes are rather conservative about new things... we respect the Medical Council's decision and will try to explain more clearly in the reapplication.'