SCMP Friday, February 9, 2001
Doctors 'need to talk more'
MO PUI YEE
A coroner yesterday urged doctors to communicate better with patients and their relatives after hearing a widow's complaints.
Lee Lai-man said her husband, Ng Suen-yam, 67, was subjected to unnecessary brain surgery after an injury resulting from a fall on April 7, 1998.
Ng fell into a coma after a second brain operation on July 29, 1998, and died in Queen Elizabeth Hospital on November 17, 1998, from a blood infection.
The inquest heard Ng had suffered the accident in Guangzhou and underwent brain surgery there. Mainland doctors had recommended he seek physiotherapy in Hong Kong.
Ms Lee told the inquest the second operation was not needed, nor were a series of minor operations.
Doctors for the hospital said brain surgery was the best option for Ng as his condition deteriorated.
Coroner Andrew Chan Hing-wai, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said the misunderstanding could have been avoided if doctors had made more effort to talk to the patient's family.
"I notice this kind of medical dispute often arises from a lack of communication between medical professionals, the patients and their families . . . I urge medical staff to explain more [to relatives]," Mr Chan said.