Doctor fined $2,000 for wrong administration of chemotherapy drug

A young doctor was fined $2,000 by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for administering a chemotherapy drug in the wrong way, which could have resulted in severe nerve damage for the patient. -- PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS
A young doctor was fined $2,000 by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for administering a chemotherapy drug in the wrong way, which could have resulted in severe nerve damage for the patient. -- PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A young doctor was fined $2,000 by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for administering a chemotherapy drug in the wrong way, which could have resulted in severe nerve damage for the patient.

Dr Garuna Murthee Kavitha, 32, had given the drug intrathecally - a term usually used when something is injected into a membrane of the spinal cord - rather than into a vein without checking if this method was correct.

In deciding on the sentence, the SMC's Disciplinary Tribunal took into consideration the fact that Dr Kavitha had disclosed the error immediately and not shied away from taking responsibility.

It also noted that the ward at the Singapore General Hospital - where Dr Kavitha was working at the time - had given her the wrong medicine, which she did not check.

Her superiors, colleagues, and the family of another patient whom she had attended to also testified to her strong work ethic and sense of responsibility.

In 2013, she had won a Best Medical Officer award at SingHealth's Best Junior Doctors and Medicine Scholarships Awards.

However, Dr Kavitha also requested that her name and that of the hospital where she was working be kept anonymous.

This was declined as the tribunal felt that doing so would not drive home the seriousness of such an error and prevent further such lapses.