4-year-old girl in critical condition after heart arrest during wound stitching at Yan Chai Hospital


28th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Yan Chai Hospital held a press conference at 6.30pm today to address a concerning incident involving a patient experiencing a sudden heart arrest after undergoing wound stitching. The patient in question is a 4-year-old girl who had sustained a head injury and developed a fever. She sought medical attention at Yan Chai Hospital’s emergency room, where she required three stitches. However, during the stitching process, her heart unexpectedly stopped beating. Due to her critical condition, she was urgently transferred to the Princess Margaret Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where she was diagnosed with ischemic brain damage.

According to sources, the young girl visited the emergency room at Yan Chai Hospital on Saturday due to an injury at the back of her head. The medical staff determined that she needed stitches to treat the wound. Sadly, following the stitching procedure, the girl’s heart arrest occurred. The medical team immediately initiated resuscitation efforts, but her condition remains critical.

Hospital Chief Executive (HCE) of Kwai Chung Hospital Dr. Desmond Nguyen expressed his team’s deep concern and sadness over the rare occurrence, stating that the incident has prompted a thorough investigation, involving specialists from the paediatrics and emergency medicine departments, to determine if any underlying conditions contributed to the heart arrest.

Dr. Ian Cheung Tsz-Fung, the Director of Yan Chai Hospital, revealed that the girl had fallen at home on Saturday, resulting in a 2cm wound and a fever. After assessing her condition, the hospital deemed it necessary to administer three stitches. Unfortunately, following the completion of the procedure, the girl experienced a sudden heart arrest. Immediate resuscitation measures were taken by the medical staff.

Dr. Lin Wai Hung, the Emergency Department Supervisor, mentioned that the stitching procedure was being performed by a nurse and a patient assistant. At 11.10am, the patient was secured on a fixed board, and during the first stitch at 11.18am, the girl resisted and cried. The patient assistant provided assistance by holding her, but shortly after, the girl lost consciousness and her heartbeat ceased. Her heartbeat was restored at 11.29am, and she was subsequently transferred to the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for further treatment.

The Cluster Patient Relations Officer has maintained close and continuous communication with the patient’s family following the incident. In addition, the clinical teams from Prince of Wales Hospital and Yan Chai Hospital have actively engaged with the patient’s family, providing them with detailed explanations of the clinical situation and offering any necessary assistance.

The Kowloon West Cluster (KWC) expresses deep concern regarding this particular case and has promptly reported it to the Hospital Authority Head Office through the Advance Incident Reporting System. PMH will continue to administer the appropriate treatment to the patient. Given the rarity of a patient experiencing cardiac arrest during a suturing procedure, KWC has taken the initiative to involve experts from the Paediatrics and Accident & Emergency (A&E) specialties. These experts will conduct a comprehensive review of the case, and further investigations relating to rare diseases have been arranged in order to determine the underlying cause.