I have (temporarily) deactivated my Facebook account. Facebook is an indulgence, like chocolate, and I am sure I can exist without it. The Facebook experience reminds me of those happy Easter holidays I used to spend in 1960s and 70s Paris, thrilling in the café culture. Watching the world go by; making comments and exchanging pleasantries. Occasionally a serious topic of conversation would crop up and the participants would engage with opinionated enthusiasm that, on occasions, escalated to unmeasured and ungenerous comments. Just like Facebook! But I must focus on sorting out my research data and that takes time, takes precedence. Now when I need a short break from Excel I will not dip into Facebook but carry on with the story I began some months ago of rum-goings on in Hong Kong. I have detailed the events on that day in April 2010 when Leung Kwan Zoey had her brain destroyed in a Jordan clinic. Tragic for the patient, terrifying for the doctor(s) and devastating for trust. Trust is an essential component for professional relationships.

Zoey had put her trust, literally placed her life, in the hands of a celebrity cosmetic surgeon. He failed her on multiple counts. There were three other doctors who were involved in the shambolic attempts of resuscitation of this innocent young girl. In view of the circumstances of her death the police were informed and in due course requested an expert opinion on the medical aspects of the case.  The report was damning, citing multiple failures in the duty of care. There was failure to weigh the patient before infusing a large volume of an anaesthetic drug with a known weight related toxicity. An overdose was given. The patient began to convulse most probably due to accidental injection into blood vessels. The surgeon had neither the knowledge, the skill, the staff nor the equipment to deal with this medical emergency. The highly vulnerable brain of the young patient was starved of oxygen. Three other doctors joined in the desperate attempts at resuscitation and when at last she was transferred to a leading public hospital her pupils were fixed and dilated, a sign that her brain had been irreversibly damaged.

Four individual doctors in a crisis. This must have been a nightmare but they had indemnity insurance to cover the costs of legal representation. The first big challenge was the coroner’s inquest. The inquest was held in October 2011 and the firm of solicitors representing the celebrity cosmetic surgeon and the three ‘Good Samaritans’ was Reed Smith Richards Butler. This was a firm in flux. Plans were afoot for the medico-legal team in Reed Smith Richards Butler to break out and join a new, independent, law firm in 2012. So we have a high profile case at a commercially sensitive time. The new firm had three founding partners, Chris Howse, Chris Williams and Kevin Bowers. The medico-legal ‘team’ in Reed Smith Richards Butler were Howse and David Kan. In the new firm called ‘Howse Williams Bowers’  Chris Howse added two more partners to his medico-legal group,  Bernard Murphy, a University of Aberdeen alumni (in Medicine) and Oonagh Toner who prior to her legal training was involved in the international world of design and advertising (to be continued).

Andrew Burd (Prof)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

View Full Profile