On 16 January, a Singaporean doctor landed in trouble for the second time. This, and three other cases, highlights the increasingly frequent missteps of doctors in Singapore.

The Singaporean doctor in question was Dr Peter Yong Thiam Look, and he was censured by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for failing to keep proper case notes and not delivering adequate advice prior to trigger finger surgery. More brazenly, he conducted the said surgery on his consultation table, in a clear violation of guidelines issued by the SMC requiring such surgery to be performed in a procedure or operating room.

These cases of misbehaving doctors have one commonality, being that these doctors are repeat offenders, highlighting these GPs’ repeated brushes with the law. These doctors have been punished in various ways, ranging from suspensions and fines, to even incarceration.

1. Constantly misstating the cause of death

65-year-old general practitioner Kwan Kah Yee was found to be guilty of stating the wrong causes of death for two patients. For his actions, he was jailed for nine months in July 2016.

For 32-year-old Ms Siti Mariam Mohd Salleh, Dr Kwan stated her cause of death as “ischaemic heart disease”, while for 26-year-old Mr Gareth Tan Soon Poh, his cause of death was stated as "bronchiectasis" and "chronic obstructive airway disease". No reasons nor proof were given for either, nor was reasons furnished as to why he stated their causes of death erroneously.

The SMC appealed to the Court of Three Judges, which raised Dr Kuan’s suspension to three years, and he was ordered to foot for SMC’s legal bill amounting to $6,000.

This was not his first offence, having previously being suspended for three months, fined S$5,000, and censured by the SMC for the same offence, back in 2009.

2. The cough syrup doctor

61-year-old Dr Tan Gek Young of Meridian Polyclinic and Surgery netted a profit of over $600,000 by selling over 25,000 bottles of the standard 90ml cough syrup, which amounted to approximately 57 bottles a day. He conducted his illicit sales for 15 months, between January 2014 and June 2015.

Dr Tan resumed his illicit sales just three months after a July 2014 raid by the HSA and is a well-known figure amongst cough syrup abusers, to whom he would dispense bottles of cough mixture upon request. Each bottle was sold for $25 to $30.

In an incredulous revelation, it was found that he even sold 3.8 litres canisters of cough mixture (enough to fill slightly more than 42 standard bottles) to four individuals who frequented his clinic, with each being sold between $1,000 to $1,100.

For his irresponsible actions prescribing cough syrup wantonly, he was charged, and awaits sentencing. He was offered a bail of $60,000, pending his appeal.

3. A dentist’s second brush with the law

43-year-old dentist Dr. Sng Wee Hock, of WH Dental Surgeons, was found to be guilty of delegating orthodontic procedures to his clinic assistants, instead of personally performing them.

Dr Sng pleaded guilty to four of 14 charges, relating to the cementing of molar bands, bonding of loose brackets, placing occlusal glass ionomer cement and removal of orthodontic arch wires. All charges involved the same patient.

For his indiscretions, he was suspended for 15 months, and fined $40,000 (RM 124,958). He applied for an appeal on 12 January, but was dismissed by the High Court, in addition to upholding his punishment.

This was not his first brush with the law. In 2014, he was fined S$15,000 for providing misinformation regarding claim details from Medisave to his patient.

He contested the charges, but was found to by guilty by the Singapore Dental Council, which stated that his misinformation amounted to professional misconduct, "because the misrepresentation made was likely to have an impact on a patient's decision to undergo the treatment". He was given a warning to not repeat the offence, and was ordered to foot 80% of the council’s bill. MIMS

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