Why did Hong Kong's North Lantau Hospital fail to save a 62-year-old man who fainted near its entrance?

The hospital is under investigation and facing criticism for sending security personnel to attend to the patient first instead of emergency medical staff

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 August, 2015, 2:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 6:24pm

The Hospital Authority is investigating whether there was any delay in resuscitating a 62 year-old man who died overnight after he collapsed near the entrance of North Lantau Hospital in Tung Chung yesterday.

The man, surnamed Leung, fainted at around 4:45pm outside the hospital’s bus stop, just 30 metres from the main entrance, when temperatures of 36 degrees were recorded in Tung Chung yesterday. He died in Princess Margaret Hospital at around 2am today.

North Lantau Hospital has been criticised for sending security personnel to attend to the patient first instead of emergency medical staff, raising concerns about a possible delay in saving his life.

According to spokespersons for North Lantau Hospital and the Fire Services Department, hospital security staff were notified by passers-by of a fainted person at 4:46pm, but the man did not actually reach the hospital until 20 minutes later, at 5:06pm.

After arriving at the scene, security informed emergency medical staff and called the Fire Services Department. While emergency medical staff were on their way, an ambulance passed by chance and arrived first, bringing the man to the hospital.

Health minister Ko Wing-man said this morning that the hospital's security staff contacted the emergency unit within minutes. “The emergency medical staff then took a few minutes to prepare the equipment needed and when they were about to set off, security staff saw an ambulance passing by the scene,” said Ko. “So the ambulance arrived sooner than our medical staff.”

The Fire Services Department said it had been notified about the man fainting at 4:54pm, and an ambulance arrived at the scene after one minute. 

Ko would not comment whether he would consider it a delay.

“Of course, if I were at the scene and saw the patient, I will try my best to rescue him no matter I have equipment or not,” said Ko. “But if our medical staff received a report from the hospital’s emergency unit, they do need to find the equipment needed [before heading out].” 

“As for the exact time sequence of what happened, we have to wait for the Hospital Authority’s detailed report,” he said.