Environment & Health Hong Kong

Touching patients’ breasts case not professional misconduct, says Medical Council

The Medical Council of Hong Kong cleared senior anesthesiologist Cheung Kai-shuen of eight counts of professional misconduct on Monday, after he was said to have touched two pregnant women’s breasts to test the effects of anesthesia.

A nurse who witnessed the incident said that Cheung had touched a patient’s left breast and left nipple, and another’s left breast, during an anesthesia test in a St Paul’s Hospital operating room in February 2012. Cheung was said to have been conducting sensory tests on a patient who had just given birth and another who was under regional anesthesia. The hospital referred the complaint to the Medical Council, which conducted six hearings in total and deliberated for five hours on Monday before reaching its not guilty verdict.

cheung

Photo: Apple Daily.

The chairman of the Medical Council, Joseph Lau Wan-yee, said that the act did not amount to professional misconduct, since, according to expert witness Ian Russell, doctors in the UK use the same method to conduct tests. Other obstetricians and gynaecologists in Hong Kong, mostly older doctors, also said they did the same, although the procedure was not common, Hong Kong Economic Times reported. Counsel for the defence further argued that if Cheung had intended to molest the patient, he would not have done it in front of the nurse, Oriental Daily said.

Joseph Lau Wan-yee

Joseph Lau Wan-yee. Photo: CUHK.

Lau also said that the only evidence against the doctor was two hospital meeting records and the testimony of a nurse. The Council found that the meeting records were incomplete and inaccurate, while the testimony had contradicted itself at different points. It found that the nurse was likely to have remembered details wrongly and since the defendant had the benefit of the doubt, he was found not guilty.

st paul's hospital

St Paul’s Hospital. Photo: Apple Daily.

In 2000, Cheung was convicted of two counts of indecent assault for twice molesting a Japanese patient after she had given birth. He successfully appealed the conviction in 2001, when the judge found that the magistrate who found him guilty had erred in law, Apple Daily reported.

Touching patients' breasts case not professional misconduct, says Medical Council