Woman sues doc over nerve injuries

Dr Chia Kok Hoong says he had given Madam Rathanamalah Shunmugam adequate advice on the risks of endovenous laser therapy, which include potential nerve injury.
Dr Chia Kok Hoong says he had given Madam Rathanamalah Shunmugam adequate advice on the risks of endovenous laser therapy, which include potential nerve injury.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

She alleges surgeon, who did laser treatment for her pigmentation, did not tell her the risks

A 50-year-old woman, who suffered nerve injuries after undergoing laser treatment for pigmentation on her legs, is suing the vascular surgeon who carried out the procedure.

Madam Rathanamalah Shunmugam, a financial services director with an insurance company, is seeking unspecified damages from Dr Chia Kok Hoong, in a suit that opened in the High Court yesterday.

She alleges that Dr Chia, who has a private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, had not advised her about the risks and complications associated with the treatment, known as endovenous laser therapy.

She also contends that the surgeon did not obtain her informed consent before carrying out additional procedures on her during the operation.

The court heard that Madam Rathanamalah noticed pigmentation on her shins in 2010 and was referred to Dr Chia by another doctor.

She saw Dr Chia on three occasions before he carried out the laser therapy in July 2010. Dr Chia had diagnosed her to be suffering from venous eczema - a skin condition affecting the lower legs which is common in people with varicose veins.

Madam Rathanamalah testified that her main concern was the pigmentation, not varicose veins which she had had for 20 years.

She said that during the first consultation in March 2010, Dr Chia told her about endovenous laser therapy, which "kills" the varicose veins and resolves the pigmentation.

She decided to undergo the treatment at the second consultation in June, when the patches of pigmentation grew and started to itch.

He had told her that the problem could lead to ulcers if left untreated.

But following the operation on July 3, the pigmentation got worse and became ulcerous. She continued to suffer pain and numbness and still requires medical care.

Her lawyer, Mr S. Palaniappan, told the court that she will call witnesses, including a neurologist, a pain specialist, a psychiatrist and a British vascular surgery expert.

Dr Chia, who is represented by Mr Christopher Chong, will call his own expert witness.

He contends that she had specifically sought treatment for her varicose veins and that his proposed treatment was correct.

He contends that he had given her adequate advice on the risks, which include potential nerve injury.

The hearing continues.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Woman sues doc over nerve injuries'. Print Edition | Subscribe