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Gynae suspended, fined for professional misconduct

A senior gynaecologist has been suspended and fined S$10,000 for performing a caesarean section on his patient without ensuring that she was fully anaesthetised.

SINGAPORE: A senior gynaecologist has been suspended and fined S$10,000 for performing a caesarean section on his patient without ensuring that she was fully anaesthetised.

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) found 68-year-old Dr Daniel Lee Kim Kwong of Lee Women's Clinic and Surgery guilty of "serious" professional misconduct.

The incident took place in August 2010.

Before the procedure, the patient had told Dr Lee she still had some feeling in her leg.

But shortly after, he made a cut on her abdomen without testing whether the epidural anaesthesia had taken effect, causing the patient to scream in pain.

In a media release, SMC said the patient's scream "stayed in the minds of several of the medical professionals in that operating theatre" when they gave their testimony.

However, Dr Lee proceeded with the caesarean, so the anaesthetist had to administer a gas mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide for about a minute to sedate the patient, and the baby was delivered within three minutes after the patient's scream.

The Council said the cut made by Dr Lee penetrated the skin and fat layer, causing significant pain and bleeding, and "could not amount to an appropriate test, as it would defy all tenets of acceptable practice for a surgeon to conduct the test in this manner."

His decision to proceed with the caesarean was also "unacceptable", as it was not an emergency procedure and the patient may still feel pain under the effect of nitrous oxide gas, even if she could not vocalise it.

Apart from a S$10,000 fine, the SMC ordered a 9-month suspension for Dr Lee, which was reduced to five months after he filed an appeal to the High Court.  

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