CUHK’s Response to the Report Released by HA on Professor Yu Cheuk-man
On 9 July, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) received the report released by the Independent Review Committee (IRC) under the Hospital Authority (HA) Board regarding the incident at the Prince of Wales Hospital (PWH) cardiology unit. After consulting with Dr. Vincent H.C. Cheng, Chairman of the CUHK Council, Vice-Chancellor Joseph J.Y. Sung established an advisory committee consisting of Professor Christopher Gane, Dean of the Faculty of Law; Council members Dr. Anissa L.K. Wong Chan and Dr. Anthony Neoh, S.C.; and Professor Tony K.H. Chung of the Faculty of Medicine. This committee was tasked with making recommendations on the arrangement of CUHK staff’s provision of clinical care to patients in Hong Kong, and the arrangement of clinical duties for Professor Yu Cheuk-man.
After carefully reviewing the Report and elaborate deliberation, the Committee has put forward the following recommendations, which were accepted by CUHK.
The Committee considers the IRC report fair, just and appropriate. Throughout the review, the IRC has placed patient safety as its foremost consideration, and the review conducted by its two experts was thorough, based on original data and images of the 11 cases. The Committee, therefore, advised the university to accept the Report and all suggestions given.
The University took the Committee’s advice, stating that in addition to technical skills, a doctor should be mindful of his/her attitude and professional behavior. The Committee suggested that CUHK in collaboration with HA, should make appropriate arrangements for Professor Yu to respond to the criticisms of his attitude and professional behavior (including internal communications, medical record-keeping, teamwork in performing clinical procedures, etc.).
Furthermore, the Committee opined that when handling the appointment of university professors as honorary clinical consultants, CUHK and HA should take into account whether the attitude and professional behavior of these professors is up to the exacting standards of the medical profession.
The University believes Professor Yu is an experienced doctor with a wealth of expertise that could benefit a great number of patients, and hopes that the incident will not hinder his ability to continue serving his patients. The Faculty of Medicine and HA will discuss the specifics of reinstatement of his clinical duties based on the experts’ recommendations.
Professor Joseph Sung appreciates the work of the advisory committee and has accepted their recommendations. “I hope this incident will have a positive impact on the University, particularly on the Faculty of Medicine. It gave us, the medical staff, an opportunity to revisit the pledge we made to our patients when we first began practising medicine, that we would put their safety and benefit above all else. In fact, one of the pledges in the Hippocratic Oath states: I will not be ashamed to say ‘I know not,’ nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.”
Professor Sung added, “In my own professional career, I have also encountered complicated cases and difficult gastrointestinal procedures. When I felt I was not coping with a case well, I always listened to the opinions of my team members. I would even request the assistance of a doctor junior to me, but with more experience in that territory. This happens in most medical teams. I think that as long as we have a caring heart for our patients and put aside our personal gains and losses, they will get the best possible treatment.”