Doctor suspended, fined over 'inappropriate prescriptions' of anxiety drug

Doctor suspended, fined over 'inappropriate prescriptions' of anxiety drug

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File photo of a doctor. (Photo: AFP/Joe Raedle)

SINGAPORE: A doctor has been suspended for four months, censured and ordered to pay a penalty of S$12,000 for inappropriately prescribing medicine to a patient, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) said on Wednesday (Jul 5).

Dr Chew Yew Meng Victor, 52, pleaded guilty to three charges of professional misconduct. He was also ordered by a disciplinary tribunal appointed by the SMC to give a written undertaking to the council and to pay the costs and expenses of the proceedings.

The council said it received a complaint on Sep 26, 2012 about Dr Chew when he was a general practitioner at Canberra Medical Clinic (subsequently renamed Canberra Medical Aesthetics).

Dr Chew prescribed benzodiazepines, which are used to treat anxiety, to one of his patients between Nov 3, 2008 and Sep 26, 2012. His prescription of an average of 1.9 tablets of diazepam 10mg a week, over 129 weeks, “far exceeded” the limits imposed by the Ministry of Health, SMC said.

He also failed to maintain sufficient details in the patient’s medical records, and did not refer the patient to a psychiatrist “in a timely manner”.

The failure to keep legible and sufficiently detailed medical records was not a minor breach, SMC said. Any psychiatrist or specialist the patient was referred to would need the records to understand the patient’s medical history and prior treatment.

Dr Chew continued prescribing benzodiazepines to the patient when he should have had suspicions of the patient becoming dependent on or abusing the drug, SMC said.

The disciplinary tribunal also considered it an aggravating factor that Dr Chew failed to contact the psychiatrist, which the patient claimed he was seeing, for verification or to discuss the management of the patient.

It accepted several mitigating factors raised by Dr Chew, including his early plea of guilt, his contributions to the underprivileged and his lack of motivation for financial gain in making the inappropriate prescriptions.

Dr Chew’s four-month suspension took effect on Wednesday.

Source: CNA/mn