Doctor suspended for four months for intruding on woman's privacy

The doctor had placed his mobile phone under the toilet door of a disabled toilet cubicle, where his victim was relieving herself. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - A doctor has been suspended for four months for intruding on a woman's privacy at a hospital.

Dr Lum Yang Wei, while on duty on Feb 19, 2016, had placed his mobile phone under the toilet door of a disabled toilet cubicle where his victim was relieving herself around 11.15am. The video recording function was turned on.

He was later charged and convicted in the state courts and served six weeks in jail in June 2017.

Dr Lum had taken the video at the hospital where both he and his victim - who was his colleague - worked. He also admitted to the police that he had taken two videos of the victim and had started taking similar videos when working at another hospital.

In judgment grounds released on Thursday (July 2), a three-member disciplinary tribunal additionally ordered that Dr Lum be censured, in addition to the suspension. The tribunal's order was made on May 22.

Dr Lum also had to provide a written undertaking to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) that he would not engage in such behaviour or any similar behaviour in the future. He also had to pay the costs and expenses of these disciplinary proceedings.

This offence could potentially have wider consequences such as the erosion of public confidence in the medical profession, the judgement said.

The tribunal consisted of Associate Professor Roy Joseph, Dr Lydia Au from Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and legal service officer Kevin Ng. They did not specify the hospitals where Dr Lum worked at or his age.

In mitigation for Dr Lum, the tribunal wrote that Dr Lum not only had strong family support but also received the support of the medical profession who were keen on giving him a second chance.

He was able to complete his housemanship after his release from prison, was made a full medical officer subsequently, and was also offered employment at a hospital while waiting for the outcome of these proceedings.

Dr Lum had also voluntarily embarked on a regimen of treatment and rehabilitation to ensure that he would not repeat his offences. He also made use of the time when he was unable to practise medicine to improve himself professionally.

The Ministry of Health Holdings also promoted him to a full medical officer in December 2018, after which he was offered conditional registration as a medical practitioner and employment in August last year. The offers were put on hold pending the tribunal's ruling.

Dr Lum also made positive progress in his recovery after receiving psychiatric and psychotherapy treatment. The report from his psychiatrist in December 2016 described Dr Lum's risk of repeating his dysfunctional behaviour to be very low if he keeps and follows through with his psychiatric and psychotherapy treatment.

"The Disciplinary Tribunal believes that because of the rehabilitation he has undergone, his strong desire to turn a new leaf, the support of his peers, family and his spiritual community, the low-risk factors in his life, Dr Lum would be able to resume work as medical practitioner," it said.

His offences were not serious enough to warrant striking him off due to factors such as the lack of physical contact between Dr Lum and his victim. Striking off would be considered for egregious sexual misconduct, such as offences of outrage of modesty involving the touching of private parts, undressing of patients and taking photographs of drugged patients in various states of undress.

However, a fine would be wholly inadequate, and hence a suspension would demonstrate that the tribunal takes upskirting offences very seriously, the tribunal said.

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