The family of a Pakistani man who became partially paralysed after being admitted to a Hong Kong hospital will demand an explanation, claiming that doctors were to blame because they delayed his treatment.

The 40-year-old was admitted to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in October 2017 for treatment of a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infection in his mid-thoracic spine. The bacteria could not be treated with antibiotics due to resistance problems.

His sister alleges that doctors advised against having a thoracotomy — open-chest surgery to gain access to the thoracic region — because of the high risks, and as a consequence the optimal time for treatment was missed. This is usually 12-36 hours after an infection is recorded.

She said the hospital had not informed his family about the man’s  deteriorating condition, and the chief surgeon had failed to give a detailed explanation of treatment options and their risks.

However, a hospital spokesperson said doctors were mindful of the  “exceptionally high risks” of surgery, as the infection was located too close to a key artery and the procedure could cause severe complications.

He said the patient was informed of these risks and made the decision himself not to have surgery, Ming Pao Daily News reported. The man’s sister argued that he would not have understood the jargon used by the doctors, as he had received only a primary school education.

The man now suffers from hemiparesis, or paralysis of one side of his body, is bedridden and according to his family has attempted suicide. He will require regular rehabilitation treatment for his disability.

The case is being followed up by volunteers with the Society for Community Organization, a human rights advocacy group.