Taipei Deputy Mayor Pai Hsiou-hsiung (白秀雄) yesterday said that it is up to prosecutors to determine whether the former superintendent of Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital and the head of its Infectious Diseases Department should receive administrative punishments from the city government over the SARS outbreak at the hospital.
"Prosecutors have control over the investigation now," Pai said. "If we need evidence or records from our own investigation, we will have to `borrow' it from them. So we have to work with them through the process."
He made the remarks when asked by reporters when the city government would announce if former superintendent Wu Kang-wen (吳康文) and department head Lin Jung-ti (林榮第) would face punishment.
The city's Bureau of Health announced on Thursday that it had suspended Dr. Chou Ching-kai (周經凱) from practicing medicine for three months because he broke the mandatory quarantine imposed on Hoping Hospital staff and that it had revoked the physician certificate of Jen Chi Hospital's superintendent Dr. Liao Cheng-hsiung (廖正雄) for concealing the SARS outbreak at his facility.
During the Thursday evening press conference, however, bureau officials said Wu and Lin were still under investigation.
Pai said that, during interviews with bureau officials, Wu and Lin tried to avoid taking responsibility for the outbreak of SARS at their hospital. As a result, he said, the bureau needed more documents from the hospital before a decision could be made about the pair.
The bureau, however, has been told it must get permission from the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office to look at the hospital's records, he said.
"When we tried to access patients' records, the hospital's employee-log records and so on, Taipei Chief Prosecutor Chen Ta-wei (陳大偉) told us we couldn't do so without prosecutors' authorization because these items are now crucial evidence in their investigation," Pai said. "When they [the prosecutors] decide who should bear the responsibility [for the outbreak], we'll know who to blame as well."