Surgery charges depend on treatments offered

File photo of National University Hospital.
File photo of National University Hospital.PHOTO: ST FILE

We refer to the letter by Dr Wong Kai Peng (Shocking fee quoted for quick surgery; Jan 15).

Dr Wong was referred to National University Hospital's (NUH) senior eye surgeon who specialises in glaucoma care.

After assessing Dr Wong's cataract and glaucoma conditions, our surgeon recommended treatments that, in his opinion, were suitable for Dr Wong.

He was provided an estimate of the charges that were based on multiple factors, including the procedures, implants and consumables used, contingency for possible complications and government subsidies.

In Dr Wong's case, the estimates were based on a complex procedure performed under general anaesthesia by a senior consultant that included both a laser procedure for cataract extraction with implant and glaucoma surgery with another implant. The estimates were for a non-subsidised patient.

In his letter, Dr Wong mentioned that Singapore National Eye Centre's (SNEC) charges were significantly lower.

We met Dr Wong on Jan 17 to gather more information and address his queries.

We understand that SNEC had recommended a different treatment option, without a laser procedure and with a different glaucoma implant. This resulted in lower charges than NUH's estimate.

While professional opinions in what constitutes the most appropriate treatment for an individual patient may sometimes vary, the surgeon should have informed the patient about other treatment options, as well as the associated costs.

We apologise for this and have counselled our surgeon on this matter.

We would like to assure the public that treatment options are available to patients based on their conditions and needs.

Subsidised patients enjoy government subsidies. Assistance is also available for patients with financial needs. We wish Dr Wong the best of health.

Eugene Liu (Dr)

Chief Executive Officer

National University Hospital

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'Surgery charges depend on treatments offered'. Print Edition | Subscribe