A surgeon at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong reportedly left his liver transplant patient who was already cut open on the operating table for another patient at a different hospital, returning three hours later to finish what he started.
Dr. Kelvin Ng Kwok-Chai, a private practice doctor and part-time surgeon at Queen Mary Hospital’s liver transplant center in Pok Fu Lam, left the hospital on Oct. 13 at around 3:25 p.m., when the patients’s abdomen had been “opened”, with her liver not yet extracted, according to South China Morning Post.
He reportedly told some of his colleagues that he would return at 5:00 p.m. that same day to finish the operation.
The patient, a woman who suffered from liver failure, was left in the hands of chief surgeon Dr. Tiffany Wong Cho-Lam.
However, after examining the extracted liver of a deceased donor that was transferred from Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, Wong and another attending surgeon left the operating theater. The patient was, once again, left in the hands of different people — this time the nursing staff and anesthetist.
The recipient was reportedly stable after the operation, a hospital spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that an employee made a report on Oct. 18 that a liver transplant on Oct. 13 was “paused” for a period of time.
“The hospital is very concerned about the [employee’s] report and has launched an investigation,” the spokesman told SCMP.
Ng reportedly came back to Queen Mary Hospital at 6:30 p.m. to continue the operation, which ended at around 10 p.m. on the same night.
The center’s director and Hong Kong University’s chief of the liver transplant division, Professor Lo Chung-mau, said that doctors could usually “pause” a liver transplant operation for three to four hours for many different reasons.
But in this case, however, he called what happened “unsatisfactory”, citing that the chief surgeon could have asked for help from different surgeons at the hospital.
“Dr Wong could have sought help from another doctor rather than waiting for Dr Ng, even though the patient was assessed to be stable at the time,” Professor Lo said.