SCMP Saturday, April 21, 2001

Doctor failed to follow simple rule

I was left dumbfounded on learning the Medical Council had cleared Dr Tung Hiu-ming of allegations he behaved unprofessionally by talking on his mobile phone while performing surgery.
The council suggested inaccurate reporting led the public to form biased opinions and come to unreasonable conclusions. However, the fact remains that Dr Tung left his mobile phone on and had a conversation on it during an operation.
We all know that even hospital visitors are asked to switch off their mobiles while on hospital premises so there is no interference with hospital equipment.
Dr Tung obviously failed to comply with this rule in a location where the reliability of medical equipment is so important.
Doctors are respected and paid well because they have significant responsibilities and are required to adhere to the highest of standards. They must often make life-and-death decisions.
Dr Tung is an experienced surgeon. He should be well-drilled in pre-operation procedures, and yet he "forgot" to do this relatively simple thing on his checklist.
Patients sign an agreement form before going into the operating theatre acknowledging there are risks involved. One hopes the risks are not unduly increased by a surgeon's concentration being diverted.
Taikoo Shing