Liposuction death case: Clinic and doctors charged for improper procedures

Jim Wong Meng Hang (left) and Zhu Xiu Chun, the two doctors involved in the 2009 death of a patient following liposuction treatment in their clinic, were charged on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, in a district court for improper procedures. -- ST FILE PHOT
Jim Wong Meng Hang (left) and Zhu Xiu Chun, the two doctors involved in the 2009 death of a patient following liposuction treatment in their clinic, were charged on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, in a district court for improper procedures. -- ST FILE PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The two doctors involved in the 2009 death of a patient following liposuction treatment in their clinic were charged on Wednesday in a district court for improper procedures.

The clinic, then known as Reves Clinic, faces 21 charges of allowing Jim Wong Meng Hang and Zhu Xiu Chun to perform liposuction without the presence of a registered nurse or someone with the relevant training to assist the procedures. The maximum penalty per charge is a $20,000 fine and a two-year jail term.

Wong faces 26 charges against him while Zhu has five charges. These include allegations of failing to allow a seven-day cooling period for patients seeking liposuction, failing to obtain feedback after three months of the procedure and performing liposuction on a patient with a body mass index of above 28. Under the regulations, such overweight people should not undergo liposuction in a clinic.

Wong, 38, and Zhu, 50, were banned from doing liposuction after the death of Mr Franklin Heng, 44. It was the first here due to a purely aesthetic treatment and the two general practitioners have renamed their clinic at International Building in Orchard Road from Reves Clinic to Yume Aesthetic & Medical Clinic. The doctors are also facing claims of over $1 million from the estate of the late Mr Heng, who was divorced with two young children. The doctors threw in the towel at the pre-trial conference in August last year, but the amount of compensation has yet to be fixed.

In December 2009, Mr Heng went to Reves Clinic to transfer some of the fat from his abdomen to his chest. He suffocated as a result of too much anaesthesia given during the treatment, a coroner's inquiry found last year. An earlier autopsy had found that Dr Wong, who performed the liposuction treatment with the assistance of Dr Zhu, had accidentally punctured Mr Heng's intestines 13 times.

Last month, Madam Mandy Yeong, also 44, died as a result of liposuction at another clinic. There will be a coroner's inquiry into the cause of her death.

khush@sph.com.sg