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Elderly man who died in hospital found to have objects stuffed inside his anus

Elderly man who died in hospital found to have objects stuffed inside his anus

Originally published at the South China Morning Post on March 7, 2016.

By Jessie Lau and Clifford Lo

Police launched an investigation into the death of an elderly home resident who was found to have objects stuffed into his anus – the second look at the company in less than one year.

An elderly patient surnamed Wong was admitted to United Christian Hospital's male medical ward on January 31 after experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea and shortness of breath, according to a hospital spokesman.

The spokesman said staff found “foreign objects” in his anus and informed his family members, who called the police.

Wong, who had low blood oxygen and blood pressure levels, was initially diagnosed with diarrhoea and a lung infection. He died on February 2, but details about his death only recently came to light.

Police were investigating whether staff of an elderly home where Wong, 60, last stayed were involved in inserting a bundle of gauzes and tapes into his anus. Wong was said to be mentally challenged.

The bundle contained several pieces of gauze and several tapes, and each was more than eight centimetres long, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

“The elderly man had been disabled and had difficulty expressing himself after suffering a stroke in 2001, so he was unable to do this,” the source said. “It was unlikely to have been done by his roommates, who were also bedridden.”

But he stressed that police were looking into all possible clues.

The source said initial examination showed the foreign objects did not cause Wong’s death.

As there were no laws to protect elderly people from abuse in the city, another source said officers were investigating whether common assault or assault occasioning actual bodily harm could be applied. “We have to seek legal advice from the Department of Justice,” he said.

Police were treating the case as “request for police investigation”. Detectives from Sau Mau Ping district crime squad were investigating. To date, no one has been arrested.

In a statement, the hospital said it would “fully cooperate with the police investigation”.

Wong was a resident at Cambridge Nursing Home in Kwun Tong. The care agency had previously drawn scrutiny after a caretaker admitted to hitting a wheelchair-bound man at its Tai Po nursing home in September.

Police also investigated the home when video footage emerged in April last year showing wheelchair-bound residents being stripped outdoors before being taken into an indoor shower area.

The home denied putting foreign objects into Wong, according to a statement it released on Monday. “Our employees definitely do not know how, or have the expertise or skills, to be able to put foreign objects far up into a [patient’s] anus,” the statement asserted, adding that the objects were only discovered more than 10 hours after Wong was sent to hospital and therefore must have been stuffed deep inside.

Wong had a pack of diapers with him when he was admitted to hospital and he could have torn them up himself during the time he was there based on his past habit of doing so, the statement went on.

The home further claimed the hospital notified it on July 4 last year that the patient had undergone intestinal surgery during the period he was staying at the hospital.

However, upon checking Wong’s medical records, the hospital stated he did not have surgery last year.

Preliminary findings indicated the patient died of pneumonia, according to a spokesman from the Social Welfare Department.

At present, there was no evidence of any irregularities at the nursing home. Since it began operating in December 2014, the home was found to have instances of license violations but passed inspections after improvements were seen.

Two middle-aged women whose father began residing at the Kwun Tong home in October last year said that they had heard of the incident but were not considering relocating their father.

“It’s out of our control, these things,” said one. “That’s why we come here every day. We can’t take care of him ourselves.”

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