Forum: False death cert case: SMC should have kept an eye on doc

Like Mr Peh Chwee Hoe, I was taken aback that a doctor was served with a notice of inquiry 5.5 years after the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) lodged a complaint against him with the chairman of the Complaints Committee (Review composition of Singapore Medical Council, June 9).

Given that that was the fourth time the doctor was found guilty of wrongly certifying the cause of death, the onus was on SMC to respond more promptly and proactively.

Clearly, the three-month suspension and $5,000 fine imposed in 2011 for the first offence were insufficient deterrence.

After the second and third offences, I would have expected SMC to impose stricter measures. These could have included placing conditions on the doctor's practice and auditing his clinical notes. This could have prevented further harm to other patients and their families.

The death of a family member is a stressful and emotional time. Receiving a false death certificate compounds a family's grief and distress, and creates confusion and distrust.

As the medical watchdog, SMC has an obligation to protect public health and safety by ensuring that the doctors it registers are competent and fit to practise medicine.

That fitness to practise extends to all stages of the patient's life, including the final paperwork a doctor completes when a patient dies.

Brenda Long