I was dismayed to read Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock's letter, in which he raised his concern that some doctors put patients through unnecessary surgery, and overlook better options, for monetary gain (Critical for private medical providers to change their ways; April 26).
In clinical practice, it is very unlikely that any doctor would put patients through unnecessary surgery just to be remunerated.
First, patients are smart and knowledgeable. They would most likely turn away from doctors who order unnecessary tests or perform unnecessary surgery.
Second, doctors in Singapore form a very close-knit circle. Doctors would know quickly if their colleagues perform unnecessary surgery or charge excessively, and would not refer patients to them in future. A doctor's reputation is as important as his skills. No doctor would be foolish enough to ruin his own reputation.
In addition, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and the medical boards of all hospitals take a very serious view of doctors performing unnecessary surgery.
Patients who feel they have received such unnecessary treatment should make a formal complaint to the SMC as well as to the hospital they attended.
If Mr Khoo has witnessed anyone having unnecessary surgery, he too should make a report to the SMC.
Lastly, before a patient sees a specialist for a problem, he should get advice and a referral from his family doctor, who would know the best doctor for the problem.
Desmond Wai (Dr)