Tuen Mun Hospital Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Tuen Mun Hospital Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A 32-year-old deaf man was mistakenly sent to a mental hospital in Hong Kong and was stuck for six days after police and hospital staff failed to provide him any sign language service.

Last November, a 61-year-old woman reported to the police that her son surnamed Liu was attempting to attack her after they had a quarrel, Apple Daily reported on Friday. She told the police officers that her son was mentally disabled and had violent behavior.

Liu was then sent to Tuen Mun Hospital, which said it did not provide him with any sign language service because he did not request it. Liu communicated to the doctor by writing on a piece of paper.

The doctor tried to ask Liu whether he had attacked his mother or will do so, Inmediahk.net reported. The doctor held up his fist and mimicked an attack, which made Liu feel threatened and emotional. He then asked Liu to sign a document that allowed Tuen Mun authorties to send the deaf man to Castle Peak Hospital, a psychiatric center.

Liu signed it even though he had difficulty in understanding long sentences. He was released from the mental hospital only after six days with the help of his younger sister, friends and Labor Party legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung.

The incident showed that frontline medical staff lacked adequate knowledge in meeting or understanding the needs of deaf people, Cheung said on RTHK on Friday. Hospitals should automatically provide sign language services, he said.

Siu Tsan, founder of Silence, a non-governmental organization that helps hearing impaired people, said the deaf tended to shy away from confrontation when they were being threatened. He said sign language should be made an official language in Hong Kong.