Case of no alert on side effects

Dr Lim Lian Arn
Dr Lim Lian Arn

In January, the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) disciplinary tribunal imposed the maximum $100,000 fine on a private orthopaedic specialist, Dr Lim Lian Arn (above), for not telling his patient of the possible side effects of an injection he gave her.

Dr Lim had, in October 2014, given her a steroid injection that can cause the area injected to be more painful and inflamed than the pain and inflammation caused by the condition being treated.

The side effect usually lasts one to two days.

Although the treatment was appropriate, Dr Lim did not tell the patient of the possible side effects.

The SMC had noted that it is a doctor's duty to obtain informed consent from patients so that they may meaningfully participate in decisions about their treatment.

Dr Lim pleaded guilty to being negligent and was fined.

More than 4,000 members of the medical community signed a petition asking Health Minister Gan Kim Yong to examine the ruling.

The petitioners were concerned the ruling could mean doctors would have to take on an additional burden that will increase the time and cost of treatment.

Some also felt the penalty was too harsh.


Dr Tho Kam San, an orthopaedic surgeon in private practice who launched the petition in January, told The Straits Times then that its aim was not to overturn the judgment but to seek clarity for doctors.

But in February, the Health Ministry asked the SMC to review the sentence.

The SMC went to the Court of Three Judges to reduce the fine to at most $20,000.

But after reviewing the judgment, the court set it aside entirely and found Dr Lim innocent, saying that there was no case against the doctor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2019, with the headline 'Case of no alert on side effects'. Print Edition | Subscribe