A doctor on Friday raised concerns about the transfers of critical patients between hospital wards after the death of a patient at Caritas Medical Centre this week.
The 79-year-old patient, who developed oxygen desaturation while waiting for an eye operation, was transferred from the eye ward to the intensive care unit on Tuesday. Staff discovered minutes after he arrived at the ICU that his oxygen cylinder had not been opened. The patient suffered cardiopulmonary failure and died later.
Speaking on an RTHK programme, Dr. Raymond Lee, director of critical care medicine at Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, noted that while the procedure of opening an oxygen cylinder is simple and does not need special training, transferring patients to the critical care unit might have been better done by those at the ICU department.
“There are very few unstable patients in the ophthalmology department, and the eye doctors and nurses may not have much experience in transferring unstable patients or
need to use much equipment. So wouldn't it be better if the transfer was conducted by some more experienced colleagues?” he said.
Caritas Medical Centre said a three-month probe was being launched into the incident and that it was too early to say whether any member of the team who transported the patient is to blame for the death.
Tim Pang, a community organiser at the Society for Community Organisation, described the case as unfortunate.
He said a similar incident happened at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2018 and new guidelines were put in place after a review, but the case on Tuesday showed that lessons were not learnt.