Hefty fine needs to be rectified

The case of the orthopaedic surgeon fined $100,000 for a minor lapse leaves residual disquiet among many in the medical profession and the final resolution seems incomplete.
The case of the orthopaedic surgeon fined $100,000 for a minor lapse leaves residual disquiet among many in the medical profession and the final resolution seems incomplete.PHOTO: ST FILE

Doctors are gratified that the efficient and fluid practice of medicine is made possible again after Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min made clarifications in Parliament (No need to list all side effects: Lam Pin Min, Feb 12).

Of course, this clarification notwithstanding, the ethical, competent and compassionate practice of medicine in Singapore will still be the order of the day and patients can rest assured.

Still, the case of the orthopaedic surgeon fined $100,000 for a minor lapse leaves residual disquiet among many in the medical profession and the final resolution seems incomplete.

That officialdom, the press and the public have actually come out rationally and sympathetically on the side of doctors clearly indicates that some injustice has, in this case, been perpetuated by the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) disciplinary tribunal.

Straightforwardly accepting the punishment the way it is without reopening the case for reconsideration because "both parties have accepted the judgment" is wrong and simply expedient.

Appropriate justice must never be dispensed in a slipshod manner and, in this case, can and should be implemented retroactively.

SMC judgments and punishments are always based on precedents when they are there for guidance.

As such, this case should not be left in the annals of our medical history without rectification of the quantitative outcome.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'Hefty fine needs to be rectified'. Print Edition | Subscribe