Doctor prescribed inappropriate drug to allergic patient

Medical Council cites ‘lack of prudence’ after woman suffers acute reaction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 9:50pm


A doctor was found guilty today of inappropriately prescribing medicine, causing a patient to suffer an acute allergic reaction.

The Medical Council gave Sam Ching-yee, a family doctor at a clinic in Siu Sai Wan, on Hong Kong Island, a suspended penalty – ordering her to be removed from the list of registered doctors for a month if in one year’s time she had failed to complete courses on the safe use of drugs and score 10 continuing medical education points.

This is the second time Sam has appeared before the council. In 2007 Sam was found guilty of improperly issuing 30 sick leave certificates to a patient within two and a half months. She was reprimanded by the council.

Council chairwoman Felice Lieh-Mak said Sam’s previous offence was “a matter of a different nature” and an “isolated incident” showing a lack of prudence rather than dishonesty. “However, the defendant’s misconduct here was yet another case of lack of prudence,” said Lieh-Mak.

The council heard that a patient, surnamed Lau, consulted Sam in August 2011 for menstrual cramps, sore throat and fever. She told Sam specifically that she had been allergic to aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) since childhood.

Sam, however, did not record Lau’s history of drug allergy in her consultation notes, and prescribed her 60mg capsules of Acemet, without informing her that the medicine is an NSAID, the council heard.

Lau only found out the nature of the medicine herself the next day, after already taking the medicine once. Later, she developed acute allergic reactions, the council heard.

“There is no doubt that the allegation against the defendant here is very serious,” said Lieh-Mak. She said Sam should have clearly explained to Lau that Acemet might trigger allergic reaction and advised her to stop using the drug and to seek treatment immediately if any allergic reaction occurred.

“In our view, the defendant’s conduct had clearly fallen short of the standard expected among registered medical practitioners in Hong Kong,” she said.

But the council also gave credit to Sam for admitting her misconduct and giving full co-operation during the investigation.

“I have learnt my lesson,” said Sam. “I will give extra caution in the future and pay extra attention, especially to patients’ history of drug allergy.”