This issue of the Newsletter mainly reports on the work of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board (Practitioners Board) in the past four months, which includes preparation for the 2015 Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination, renewal of practising certificates and Continuing Education in Chinese Medicine (CME) for registered Chinese medicine practitioners (CMPs), findings of disciplinary inquiries and reminders for CMPs from the Practitioners Board.
Regarding disciplinary inquiries, the Practitioners Board specifically reminds all CMPs to note and observe the regulations on professional responsibility and ethics, standards on prescribing medicines, professional responsibility in dispensing Chinese medicines, issue of professional documents or certificates and practice advertising as stipulated in the Chinese Medicine Ordinance and the Codes of Conduct (the Codes1) in their practice lest they should violate the laws inadvertently or perform acts which might constitute professional misconduct.
In addition, this Newsletter also publicises details of the amendments to the Codes, which include the deadline for reporting offences punishable by imprisonment to the Practitioners Board and uploading recent passport type photographs on the Internet. For details, please refer to the content.
The effective date of the amended Codes is 1 July 2015. The Practitioners Board will send a newly printed copy of the Codes (2015 version) to all CMPs.
For other information, the Practitioners Board would also like to draw the attention of all CMPs to the news on further strengthening the quality control of Chinese herbal medicine markets by China Food and Drug Administration, measures for preventing and controlling influenza recommended by the Department of Health (DH), full implementation of the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), news relating to the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme and information on the Health Manpower Survey conducted by the DH.
Last but not least, the answers of the 2014 CME Quiz for awarding CME points through reading the Newsletter are attached to this issue for CMPs' reference.
May I wish you all good health and happiness.
Mr WONG Kit
Chairman of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board
1The Codes refer to the Code of Professional Conduct for Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners in Hong Kong and the Code of Conduct for Listed Chinese Medicine Practitioners.
The application for sitting the 2015 CMPs Licensing Examination for non-listed CMP persons was closed in late October 2014 and that for listed CMPs and repeaters was closed on 31 March 2015.
Paper 1 and Paper 2 of the Written Examination of the 2015 CMPs Licensing Examination will be conducted on 9 June and 11 June 2015 respectively. In the event of bad weather, the examination on 9 June and 11 June 2015 will be postponed to 15 June and 17 June 2015 respectively. The clinical examination is scheduled to be held between 3 August and mid-August 2015.
Candidates should receive the admission form and the Guidelines for Candidates one week prior to the examination. They may contact the Secretariat of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong at 2121 1888 if they do not receive the above-mentioned documents on time.
As at the end of March 2015, there were 6,898 registered CMPs, 62 CMPs with limited registration and 2,690 listed CMPs.
Pursuant to section 76 of the Chinese Medicine Ordinance (CMO), registered CMPs must hold valid practising certificates before they are allowed to practise Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. The usual validity period of a practising certificate is three years. Registered CMPs should fulfill the CME requirements prescribed by the Practitioners Board before they can renew their practising certificates.
From December 2014 to March 2015, 412 registered CMPs renewed their practising certificates. All registered CMPs who have their practising certificates renewed should report promptly to their CME Administrators their new CME cycles, required CME points, and the validity period of their practising certificates.
The CMO also stipulates that if registered CMPs practise Chinese medicine without obtaining valid practising certificates for a period exceeding six months, the Practitioners Board may order removal from the Register the name of those registered CMPs in accordance with section 56(1)(d) of the CMO.
Apart from section 76 of the CMO mentioned above, the Codes also stipulate that registered CMPs should practise Chinese medicine with a valid practising certificate. The Practitioners Board will handle non-compliance cases seriously in accordance with the set disciplinary procedures.
To encourage CMPs in reading the Newsletter, the PB endorsed in 2011 the introduction of the CME Quiz. Ten questions, based on the content of the three issues of the Newsletter of the year, will be published in the December issue every year. Two CME points would be awarded for successful attempt of six or more questions.
The correct answers of the 2014 CME Quiz are attached to this issue of Newsletter at Appendix for CMPs' reference. The 2015 CME Quiz will be published in the December issue of the Newsletter this year.
The Practitioners Board held disciplinary inquiries from December 2014 to March 2015 on five registered CMPs and one listed CMP who were convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment and/or alleged breaching the Codes. The five registered CMPs and one listed CMP were found guilty after the inquiries. The Practitioners Board removed the name of one registered CMP for six months with a suspension of 24 months; reprimanded and removed the name of one registered CMP for three months with a suspension of 12 months; reprimanded two registered CMPs; warned another registered CMP and removed the name of one listed CMP.
Summing up the above cases, the Practitioners Board reminds all CMPs to take note of the following issues.
According to the provisions of section 2 of Part III of the Code, CMPs have a professional responsibility to patients. They should patiently explain to patients their medical conditions, methods of treatment and the precautions in taking drugs. They should diligently improve their professional knowledge and skills, so as to maintain high professional standards in providing medical service to patients. If the Practitioners Board considers that a CMP, in the course of conduct of his profession, has conducted himself in a way which has fallen short of the reasonable standards of conduct expected among his professional colleagues, the CMP may have committed the above-mentioned provisions of the Code.
Standards on Prescribing Medicines
It is stipulated in the Codes that a CMP shall issue prescriptions which conform with professional standards and shall not prescribe excessive or inappropriate medicines. If a CMP prescribes inappropriately with excessive dosages or excessive number of medicines without referring to any therapeutic principles, treatment methods, treatment priorities, or against the principle by which medicines are combined, the treatment of patients would be adversely affected.
In addition, the Practitioners Board reminds all listed CMPs that, according to section 109 of the CMO, only registered CMPs are permitted to prescribe Chinese herbal medicines specified in Schedule 1. For details of the provision and the schedule, please visit this website (http://www.legislation.gov.hk/blis/eng/index.html).
Professional Responsibility in Prescribing Chinese Medicines
In addition, a CMP must be professionally responsible for the Chinese medicines prescribed directly by him-/herself or by dispensers and other staff under his/her supervision to patients under his/her care. The Practitioners Board also appeals to CMPs to purchase medicines from licensed wholesaler of proprietary Chinese medicines or Chinese herbal medicines with good reputation. No medicines of unclear or unreliable sources should be purchased.
If a CMP has done something which has fallen short of the standards of conduct expected among members of his/her profession, it could be regarded as professional misconduct and the Practitioners Board and its Disciplinary Committee will handle such cases strictly.
Issue of Professional Documents or Certificates
The Practitioners Board reminds all CMPs not to issue professional documents or certificates which are untruthful or misleading when issuing sick leave certificates and receipts of consultation fees; otherwise, a criminal liability may be incurred.
In addition, it is stated in the Reference Guide on Issuance of Sick Leave Certificate by Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners (Reference Guide) that CMPs should not back-date any sick leave certificate nor issue a certificate covering a sick leave period of over seven days. If necessary, they should issue another certificate to patients during follow-up medical consultation. CMPs found to have committed the above acts in breach of the Reference Guide may constitute professional misconduct.
The Practitioners Board would like to reiterate that according to the Codes, CMPs shall not carry out or participate in any practice advertising works or activities. Practice advertising refers to adoption of various promotion measures to enhance the popularity of CMPs so as to gain benefits from his business, including the promotion of a CMP, his work or his practice, by himself or others (including his employer). Inappropriate advertising measures include the provision of information to, and soliciting business from the public or his patients. Any information provided by a CMP to the public or his patients must be legitimate, honest, true, not exaggerated, and must not claim superiority over other CMPs, or disparage other CMPs. A CMP who has any kind of professional relationship with an organization, when participating in advertising activities or services of the organization, must exercise due diligence to ensure that the organizations do not advertise in contravention of the principles and rules applicable to CMPs as mentioned above.
Deadline for reporting offences to the Practitioners Board
It is stated in the existing section 1(2) under Part 3 of the Codes that if a registered/listed Chinese medicine practitioner has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment in Hong Kong or elsewhere (irrespective of whether a prison term is imposed or not), or found guilty of misconduct in a professional respect, he must report the same to the Practitioners Board immediately.
To provide the CMP concerned with clear guidelines and the Practitioners Board and the Disciplinary Committee of Chinese Medicine Practitioners an objective standard for making judgments when handling relevant disciplinary cases, the Practitioners Board has adopted after discussions that the time frame for reporting will be revised to 28 days (in calendar days). The amendment will take effect on 1 July 2015.
Furthermore, the Practitioners Board has noticed that according to the existing provisions of the Codes, a CMP being charged is not required to report the incident to the Practitioners Board as long as he is not formally convicted by the court. Even though a CMP has been convicted by the court, he can still practice Chinese medicine until a disciplinary inquiry on his case is conducted and the Practitioners Board decides after the inquiry that his name shall be removed from the list of CMPs.
In order to expedite the disciplinary procedures by conducting an inquiry regarding a CMP who has been found committing serious offences and making punishments as soon as possible lest the public's confidence in the CMP profession should be impaired, the Practitioners Board has adopted that the Codes will be revised such that once a CMP has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment by the court, even if the CMP is appealing to the court regarding his conviction, he is still required to report his case to the Practitioners Board. The scope of professional misconduct has also been extended to cover other professions. The relevant amendments will take effect on 1 July 2015.
Uploading Passport type Recent Photo on the Internet
Nowadays, the use of the Internet is very common and members of the public search information through the Internet very often. To facilitate patients' searching for a suitable CMP, CMPs may upload their particulars on the Internet in accordance with the existing requirements of the Codes. Photographs of the CMPs, however, are not allowed to be uploaded.
Since the use of the Internet has become very popular nowadays and passport type photo should generally not create a practice advertising effect, the Practitioners Board, having balanced the interests of both CMPs and patients, adopted that CMPs will be allowed to upload their recent passport type photos on the Internet so that patients may recognise CMPs' faces by the photo when necessary. The relevant amendments will take effect on 1 July 2015.
In conclusion, the Practitioners Board's amendments to the Codes are summarised as follows:
section 1(2) under Part 3 of the Codes will be amended to read "if a registered/listed Chinese medicine practitioner has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment in Hong Kong or elsewhere (irrespective of whether a prison term is imposed or not), or found guilty of misconduct in a professional respect, he must report the same to the Practitioners Board within 28 days from the day he is convicted or found guilty of professional misconduct even if an appeal is being made"; and
item (x) which states "a passport type recent photo" will be added under section 6(2)(f) under Part 3 of the Codes.
The above amendments will take effect on 1 July 2015. The Practitioners Board will send a copy of the revised Codes (2015 version) to all CMPs for their retention and reference. A letter will also be sent to all major CMP associations informing them of the relevant amendments.
Should there be any enquiries, please contact Secretariat of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong (Tel. No.: 2121 1888).
China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) announced on 9 February 2015 that inspections had recently been conducted at five Chinese herbal medicine markets including Yuzhou Market in Henan, Anguo Market in Hebei, Bozhou Market in Anhui, Lianqiao Market in Hunan and Hehuachi Market in Sichuan. Many problems had been identified in individual markets which might affect the quality and safety of Chinese medicines. Some of the more serious problems include: Fructus Gardeniae was dyed openly on streets by some stall owners and non-medicinal parts instead of medicinal parts of Radix Bupleuri were sold at Yuzhou Market in Henan; Radix Ginseng Rubra was dipped in sugar for extra weight and Lignum Aquilariae Resinatum adulterated with sprayed oil at Anguo Market in Hebei; faked Pollen Typhae and faked Spora Lygodii were sold at Bozhou Market in Anhui; Ziziphus Mauritiana Lam was counterfeited as Semen Ziziphi Spinosae and Radix Rumicis Japonici was counterfeited as Radix et Rhizoma Rhei at Lianqiao Market in Hunan; and sand was added to Pberetima and Eupolyphaga seu Steleophaga for extra weight at Hehuachi Market in Sichuan, etc.
In view of the quality issue of Chinese herbal medicines and the illegal acts of the relevant operating units as found in these inspections, CFDA has asked the food and drug administrations at provincial level responsible for managing the markets in question to investigate the incidents and take appropriate disciplinary actions in accordance with the laws and regulations. Meanwhile, CFDA has also directed local governments responsible for managing each Chinese herbal medicine market to conscientiously strengthen the management of these markets. For details, please refer to CFDA's website (http://www.sda.gov.cn/WS01/CL0844/114140.html).
To safeguard public health and ensure that Chinese herbal medicines sold in Hong Kong meet the quality and safety standards, CMPs are advised to take caution not to purchase the Chinese herbal medicines involved in the quality issue as mentioned above and check whether the Chinese herbal medicines being used are involved in the quality issue mentioned above. Should the Chinese herbal medicines purchased are found to be the medicines in question, please stop using them and contact the Chinese Medicine Division of the DH immediately (Tel. No.: 2319 5119).
The DH will keep in view the development and maintain liaison with CFDA so as to ensure safe use of medicines by the public.
Should you have any enquiries in respect of the above, please also contact the Chinese Medicine Division of the DH at 2319 5119.
The Plastic Shopping Bag (PSB) Charging has been fully implemented since 1 April 2015. According to the information provided in the EPD's website, except for the exemptions as prescribed by the legislation, the PSB Charging includes all points of retail sales of goods, irrespective of the scale of the business (e.g. chain stores, small and medium enterprises, hawkers) and the nature of the business (e.g. street level shops, upper floor shops, sales via mail order or Internet). For those outlets whose primary business is to provide service and at the same time have also taken part in the retail sales of goods (e.g. hairdressing salons selling hair care products, tutorial schools selling books and stationery), the retailers will also need to charge the customer at least 50 cents for each plastic bag provided when conducting retail sales of goods.
According to the information provided in the EPD's website, there are three types of exemptions under the PSB Charging which include:
Bags used for food hygiene reasons
A bag that only contains an item of food, drink or medicine (collectively as "foodstuff") for human or animal consumption where the item is —
without packaging; or
in non-airtight packaging; or
in frozen or chilled state (regardless the packaging method).
Bags used for packaging
A bag that –
forms part of the goods concerned.
Bags provided with the services
A bag provided to customer which forms part of the services with no retail sales of goods involved.
In the circumstances mentioned above, the plastic bag given out will not be subject to a charge. A copy of the Reference Guide for Retailers as published by the EPD is attached in this Newsletter for CMPs' reference (Chinese version only).
When CMPs dispense Chinese herbal medicines to their patients or when they are in the capacities of the holders of the retailer licence in Chinese herbal medicines, they are likely to use plastic bags. In this connection, would CMPs please take heed and adapt themselves to the implementation of the legislation lest they should breach the law innocently. For further details and enquiries, please browse the website http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/psb_charging/en/index.html or contact the EPD at 3152 2299.
Chinese medicine plays an important role in Hong Kong's healthcare system. In the prevention and control of influenza, the co-operation and support from CMPs are important.
The overall local influenza activity has continued to increase since late December 2014. The DH urges all CMPs to remind their patients to avoid going to crowded or poorly ventilated public places when influenza is prevalent; high-risk individuals, such as the elderly and young children, may consider putting on surgical masks when staying in such places.
Besides, the DH also recommends that CMPs should remind members of the public to take the following measures to prevent influenza and respiratory tract infections:
For the latest information on influenza activity, please visit the website of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the DH (http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/14843.html) or refer to the Flu Express published weekly by the CHP (http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/guideline1_year/29/134/441/304.html).
The Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme (EHCVS) was introduced in January 2009 which aimed at subsidising elderly aged 70 or above in their use of primary healthcare services provided by private healthcare professionals (including registered CMPs). As at the end of 2014, over 1 500 registered CMPs have enrolled in the EHCVS and 640 000 elders have made use of the vouchers.
CMPs who have not yet participated in the EHCVS are sincerely invited to enroll so that the number of healthcare service providers will be increased. The elderly may then have more choices to choose services targeted for them and make payments conveniently by using the vouchers after using the healthcare services provided by CMPs. A copy of the pamphlet on the EHCVS is attached in this Newsletter for your reference (Chinese version only). Procedures for enrolling in the EHCVS and for using the vouchers are simple and convenient. For details, please visit the website of the EHCVS (http://www.hcv.gov.hk) or contact the Health Care Voucher Unit of the DH (Tel. No.: 3582 4102).
The 2014 Health Manpower Survey conducted by the DH has commenced. This survey aims at collecting information on the manpower and employment status of healthcare personnel practising in Hong Kong, which is essential for reference of health manpower planning. The questionnaire has been distributed to all CMPs together with the previous issues of Newsletter. It is known that some CMPs have not returned the completed questionnaire yet, enclosed please find the reminder and questionnaire to all CMPs from DH (except those CMPs opted not to receive reminder). Please return the duly completed questionnaire to the Health Manpower Unit of the DH as soon as possible. For further enquiry, please visit http://www.dh.gov.hk/english/statistics/statistics_hms/statistics_hms.html or contact Health Manpower Unit at 2961 8566.
All CMPs are requested to notify the Secretariat as soon as possible if there are changes in their registered address, correspondence address, practising address, telephone number, fax number and other personal data which have been previously reported to the PB. The form of Change of Personal Particulars of CMPs can be obtained from the Secretariat or downloaded from the CMCHK homepage (http://www.cmchk.org.hk).
Should you have any opinions regarding the content of the Newsletter, please send them to the Secretariat by post, fax or email, indicating "Newsletter of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board". All published Newsletters have been uploaded to the CMCHK homepage (http://www.cmchk.org.hk). CMPs are cordially invited to visit the above website.
Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong
Room 2201, 22/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East,
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Enquiry telephone: (852) 2121 1888
24-hour enquiry system: (852) 2574 9999
Fax Number: (852) 2121 1898
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Service Hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays