Coroner homes in on rule flouters

Local | Jasmine Ling 13 Aug 2020

A coroner's court has urged the social welfare department to step up prosecutions of rule-breaking elderly homes in ruling that a Cambridge Nursing Home resident with foreign objects in his anus died of natural causes.

It also made 10 recommendations to the department, including blacklisting noncompliant operators and limiting staff working hours to less than 16 hours a day.

Wong Chi-shing, a 60-year-old who lived in the home in Ngau Tau Kok, died of pneumonia on February 2, 2016.

His brother accused the home of maltreatment after gauze and tapers were found inside Wong's anus when he was admitted to United Christian Hospital with lung inflammation two days before his death.

He said his incapacitated sibling, who suffered a stroke in 2007, could not have placed the objects in his rectum. The home denied doing so.

Coroner Monica Chow Wai-choo slammed carers for attempting to shift blame onto the hospital, with the home's supervisor, Lau Wing-mui, claiming its doctors had recommended using rectal suppositories on Wong, who suffered from diarrhea.

Lau added that the home was notified by the hospital, which denies it, in 2015 that Wong had undergone intestinal surgery.

Chow accepted the inquest's finding that some caregiver had inserted the objects into Wong around a week before his death, believing it could stop loose stool from leaking.

The home underwent a name change to Cornard Nursing Home following a scandal when its Tai Po branch's staff were filmed stripping female residents before they took a shower on a balcony.

Chow criticized the home for forging attendance records and violating government regulations on the ratio of health workers to residents, as there was only one caregiver working on January 29 and 30 in 2016.

The department, Chow said, merely issued a written warning and did not consult the department of justice beforehand, showing its lax handling of rule breakers.

Among other suggestions include prosecuting homes that give false information and requiring checks on residents' temperature, blood pressure and heart rate every two days.

Legal action is needed if a home violates the staffing ratio more than three times and issue timely warnings over malpractices.


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