It was not normal surgical procedure for a doctor to touch a woman’s breasts to check her level of sedation after administering anaesthetic, an expert witness today told a hearing at Hong Kong’s medical watchdog. Prominent anaesthetist Dr Cheung Kai-shuen faces eight charges of professional misconduct at the Medical Council for allegedly groping and pinching the breasts and nipples of two pregnant patients. The cases were reported to the council by St. Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay, where the alleged incidents took place during caesarean deliveries. It is a rare move for a private hospital to actively report a doctor to the council. Outside the hearing, council chairman Professor Joseph Lau Wan-yee praised the hospital for coming forward and encouraged more private institutions to do the same. “If the hospitals have investigated the matter and have doubts, they should report the case [to the Medical Council],” Lau said. “Only in this way can it be fair to patients and doctors, and the standard of local medical professionals can be maintained.” Today, Dr Frances Lui, a consultant anaesthesiologist at Queen Mary Hospital who attended the hearing as an expert witness, said it was not necessary for Cheung to touch the women’s breasts for a sensibility test. “Most anaesthesiologists simply would not do it,” Lui said. “Nipples and breasts are very private parts of a patient. I do not feel it is necessary to do a sensibility test on the nipples and breasts. We can do it below the breasts instead of touching the breasts directly.” Even if such a test were necessary, the doctor must seek consent from the patients and allow them time to make their decision before they went into the operating theatre, she said. On the rare occasion such a test was needed, Lui pointed out doctors should use a medical instrument to conduct the examination, such as a tube, rather than using their hands/ She added that it was possible for the doctor to pass on bacteria to the mother and baby by touching her breasts with the hands, even if they were in a sterilised operating theatre. But she accepted that the sensibility test by hands was not scientifically incorrect. During an earlier hearing on May 14, one of the two nurses from the hospital alleged that she was shocked to see Cheung using his bare hands to touch the women’s breast, as she had never seen the practise carried out by other doctors. She said Cheung allegedly used his second and middle finger to touch one of the patients’ left nipples. The hearing continues today.