Medical council seeks to quash conviction against psychiatrist

Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang, a psychiatrist at the National University Hospital, had been charged for giving a memo on a patient's medical condition to her brother, who posed as her husband.
Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang, a psychiatrist at the National University Hospital, had been charged for giving a memo on a patient's medical condition to her brother, who posed as her husband.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The Singapore Medical Council will apply to the Court of Three Judges to quash an earlier conviction and $50,000 fine against a psychiatrist for providing information on his patient to a man claiming to be her husband.

The medical watchdog had said previously that it would ask the court to review the judgment by a disciplinary tribunal against Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang.

In a statement yesterday, the council said new information received raises doubt over what happened, so it is taking this step "in the interest of justice".

Dr Soo, a psychiatrist at the National University Hospital, had been charged with giving a memo on a patient's medical condition to her brother, who had posed as her husband. The patient filed a complaint with the council, saying that her brother used the memo provided by the doctor to get a protection order against her in a family court.

Dr Soo had pleaded guilty to not verifying who the man was.

The disciplinary tribunal said a reasonable and competent doctor would have obtained the man's name and identity card number, and checked it against the patient's records.

The judgment resulted in an online petition - which garnered thousands of signatures - arguing that Dr Soo had been trying to help the patient, whom the caller said was suicidal.

 
 

Since the case erupted, the patient's brother has put online his version of what happened. He said in his Facebook post that while he was the man who spoke to the doctor, the patient's husband was with him and agreed with what he was doing.

The council then approached both the patient's brother and husband for their statements.

In its statement yesterday, the council said: "These statements were not obtained by the Complaints Committee prior to its referral of the patient's complaint against Dr Soo for a formal inquiry by a disciplinary tribunal."

The council said it will be providing the court with the new information in its application to have the conviction set aside. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2019, with the headline 'Medical council seeks to quash conviction against psychiatrist'. Print Edition | Subscribe