More people will be screened for sleep apnea in the Kowloon East cluster, as the quota will rise to 1,200 from 1,000 starting in January.
According to Lau Ip-tim, chief executive of Tseung Kwan O Hospital and Haven of Hope Hospital, 4.4 percent of Hong Kong adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, breathing cessation during sleep and abrupt awakenings due to gasping or choking.
The syndrome is also common among children, with 5.8 percent of boys and 3.8 percent of girls diagnosed.
Beginning in January the cluster will integrate the sleep diagnostic service with Heaven of Hope Hospital and United Christian Hospital. More than 20 medical staff from different departments including medicine and geriatrics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and ear, nose and throat will work together, providing services with seven designated beds at the two hospitals.
The quota of sleep apnea tests will be increased to 1,200. Tseung Kwan O Hospital will extend its services from two days per week to five days, while that of Haven of Hope Hospital will go from two to four.
Lau said about 3,000 patients were waiting for the service at Tseung Kwan O Hospital. The average waiting time is over three years. "With the multi- discipline approach, it is hoped that the waiting time can be shortened to one year," he said.
A patient, Law, 57, suffered from the disorder for more than 10 years. "One time I fell asleep while driving. I didn't realize I was driving in the opposite direction until a coach honked me."
He sought treatment two years ago and was advised by doctors to wear a positive airway pressure ventilator while sleeping, which applies mild air pressure on a continuous basis to keep the airways continuously open. "With the treatment, I only need a few hours of sleep now to be fully energetic in the morning," he said.
To cope with growing demand in the Kowloon East district, the cluster added 58 beds in three hospitals starting from September, bringing the total to 2,543. An additional 183 medical staff were hired, including three doctors.
The cluster will also provide 2,000 additional family medicine specialist outpatient clinic attendances and 2,250 allied health services outpatient clinic attendances. It will also add 1,150 physiotherapy appointment slots and cater for about 4,320 additional patients under the General Outpatient Clinic Public-Private Partnership Program.
Meanwhile, Queen Mary Hospital has appointed a four-member panel to investigate a part-time surgeon who left in the middle of an operation earlier this month. Kelvin Ng Kwok-chai left the patient, whose abdomen was opened, on the table for three hours to perform another surgery at a private hospital.