A doctor was fined $30,000 after he failed to refer a patient who had a corneal ulcer to a specialist “in a timely manner”. The patient later underwent surgery and permanently lost most of her sight in her left eye. The doctor, however, was not suspended from practising.
The doctor, Dr Sim Kwang Soon, 53, was then working as a general practitioner at Alliance Clinic & Surgery in Block 652, Jalan Tenaga, off Bedok Reservoir Road. On June 2010, he diagnosed a patient as suffering from a corneal ulcer in her left eye, but did not refer her to an eye specialist immediately. Instead, he said that the corneal ulcer was small and would not affect her vision. He advised her to return to him if her condition did not improve, after which he would refer her to a specialist.
One day after her consultation with Dr Sim, the patient saw another general practitioner, who referred her to a hospital’s accident and emergency department. She was hospitalised for more than two weeks, and later underwent a corneal transplant and cataract operation. The patient later filed a complaint against Dr Sim with the Singapore Medical Council in May 2013.
In its grounds of decision issued to the media on Tuesday (Sept 26), the SMC said: “Dr Sim’s failure to refer the patient to a specialist in a timely manner caused a further aggravation of the ulcer, and ultimately, after a therapeutic corneal transplant, the patient suffered permanent disability in her left eye, with a decreased rate of functionality of only 20 per cent post-surgery.”
Aside from the $30,000 fine, the tribunal ruled that Dr Sim should be censured, provide a written statement that he will not engage in any similar conduct in the future, and pay SMC for the solicitors and other costs related to these proceedings.