Court throws out woman's negligence claim against doc

Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah found that while Dr Chia Kok Hoong (left) did not maintain a complete contemporaneous record of his consultations with the patient, she had signed the consent form acknowledging that the risks had been explained t
Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah found that while Dr Chia Kok Hoong (above) did not maintain a complete contemporaneous record of his consultations with the patient, she had signed the consent form acknowledging that the risks had been explained to her.ST FILE PHOTO

She said treatment affected her mobility but was seen in video using stairs without difficulty

She had sued a surgeon over nerve injuries suffered after undergoing laser treatment on her legs, claiming her mobility was affected and that her legs hurt when they came into contact with clothes.

But video surveillance carried out by a private investigator hired by lawyers for the vascular surgeon being sued showed the 50-year-old woman walking and climbing stairs without difficulty or signs of pain.

During one journey, she was seen choosing to walk up a flight of stairs at Orchard MRT station instead of looking for a lift or escalator.

Yesterday, Madam Rathanamalah Shunmugam, a financial services director at an insurance company, lost her medical negligence suit in the High Court.

She sought at least $2 million for medical expenses incurred, future medical expenses, income losses suffered and future income losses.

Madam Rathanamalah alleged that Dr Chia Kok Hoong, who has a private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, had not advised her about the risks and complications of the treatment, known as endovenous laser therapy.

She insisted that she saw Dr Chia to treat pigmentation on her legs and would not have agreed to undergo the procedure - used to treat varicose veins - had she been warned that she risked nerve injuries.

She claimed the constant pain and hypersensitivity in her legs have curtailed her ability to provide sound financial advice to clients. This has led to her clients being disappointed with her service and her being unable to grow her customer base.

Dr Chia, who was represented by Mr Christopher Chong, contended that he had told her of the risks, including possible nerve injuries, before carrying out the procedure to treat her varicose veins in July 2010.

Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah dismissed Madam Rathanamalah's claim.

He found that while Dr Chia did not maintain a complete contemporaneous record of his consultations with the patient, she had signed the consent form acknowledging that the risks had been explained to her.

There was also evidence from Dr Chia's witnesses, including the doctor who had referred her to the surgeon, that he had given her advice and obtained her consent.

The judicial commissioner commented that based on video surveillance, the extent of her injuries may not be as bad as she claims. He also noted that she had tried to claim for medical expenses which were already covered by her insurers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Court throws out woman's negligence claim against doc'. Print Edition | Subscribe