Two doctors appeal against misconduct decisions by SMC

Prominent cardiologist Leslie Lam is fighting a three-month suspension for failing to advise a patient of the risks and complications before getting his consent for a non-surgical heart procedure.

He is the second doctor to come before the Court of Three Judges this week to appeal against the decisions of disciplinary tribunals which had found them guilty of professional misconduct.

On Tuesday, gynaecologist Jen Shek Wei, whose patient complained that he had removed her left ovary without telling her what the procedure entailed, had appealed against an eight-month suspension and $10,000 fine.

The court reserved judgment for both appeals and will give its decision at a later date.

Dr Lam faced three charges of misconduct after a patient complained to the Singapore Medical Council about a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) - in which the arteries of the heart are unblocked with a stent - done in 2011.

He was accused of advising the patient to undergo a conventional angiogram and PCI without clinical evaluation, failing to perform the PCI and stenting with proper skill and care, and failing to ensure the patient was informed about his condition and options.

The patient did not suffer adverse physical consequences.

In November last year, after a five-day hearing, Dr Lam was acquitted of the first two charges after the tribunal found that his treatment was appropriate.

But the tribunal accepted the testimony of the patient that he had been "railroaded" by Dr Lam into undergoing the PCI procedure without being told of the risks and complications.

Yesterday, Dr Lam's lawyer, Mr Lek Siang Pheng, contended that his client had advised the patient of the risks and complications.

SMC's lawyer, Mr Philip Fong, said Dr Lam's testimony that he had obtained informed consent was an "afterthought", noting that the doctor's first explanation to the SMC in 2012 contained no reference to it.

In the case of Dr Jen, the patient was a 34-year-old finance manager who was referred to him by an orthopaedic surgeon after scans showed a mass in her pelvis.

In August 2010, he performed surgery to remove her left ovary. She only found out later when she saw another doctor.

The patient said she consented to surgery to remove a mass but did not know it covered her ovary.

Dr Jen's lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, said his client had offered her an option to "wait and observe" the mass but she wanted immediate treatment.

The consent form stated she was to to undergo "open left oophorectomy" and her testimony that she had signed a blank consent form was "incredible", he said.

SMC's lawyer, Mr Edmund Kronenburg, said the patient's "violent" reaction when told her left ovary had been removed showed she really had no inkling.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline Two doctors appeal against misconduct decisions by SMC. Subscribe