A Singaporean paediatrician has been suspended for three months due to professional misconduct ̶ she failed to properly diagnose and treat a young patient for Kawasaki Disease.

Explaining the decision, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) said that the late diagnosis could have led to the child developing serious cardiac complications.

The incident occurred on 25 February 2013, when a then-one-year-old was admitted to Gleneagles Hospital with high fever and red eyes, among other symptoms.

Paediatrician failed to order supportive tests

Dr Chia Foong Lin, who was practising at Chia Baby and Child Clinic was on call for the hospital that night. She diagnosed him with a viral infection.

The boy stayed in the hospital for four days, during which, Dr Chia considered Kawasaki Disease; but dismissed the idea shortly. Three days after he was discharged from Gleneagles, the boy's parents sought a second opinion at another hospital, where he was definitively diagnosed with the condition.

SMC's lawyers argued that Kawasaki Disease was a "relatively common and potentially life-threatening" childhood disease.

The SMC's disciplinary tribunal also noted that the diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease is "not straightforward", but Dr Chia failed to carry out the tests which would have helped in either confirming or ruling out the condition.

She also did not discuss the matter with the patient's parents for them to make an informed treatment choice.

Clean record, lighter sentence

"Instead, she was content to continue managing the patient for viral fever when the clinical features clearly did not point to a simple case of viral infection," said SMC in a statement on 27 June.

"In view of the patient's symptoms and the significant risks of adverse and severe consequences resulting from a delayed or missed diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease, it would be reasonably expected of Dr Chia to order such tests during the course of the patient's hospitalisation."

The disciplinary tribunal also noted that Dr Chia had a perfect record and that the case did not show an intentional departure from established standards.

Dr Chia appealed against the sentence, but the appeal was dismissed. MIMS

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