Singapore Medical Council to appeal doctor’s conviction after he gave out patient’s details

Singapore Medical Council to appeal doctor’s conviction after he gave out patient’s details

Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang, director of Neuroscience clinic at NUH
Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang, director of the Neuroscience Clinic at NUH. (Photo: NUS)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) will apply to the Court of Three Judges for a doctor’s conviction to be set aside after he was found to have breached a patient’s medical confidentiality.

In a press statement on Tuesday (May 21), the council said it has received new information in the case of Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang, who was fined in March this year by an independent disciplinary tribunal.

The new information includes statements from the patient’s brother and husband that were not previously obtained by the Complaints Committee, SMC said.

In 2015, Dr Soo, the director of Neuroscience Clinic at the National University Hospital (NUH), had given a memo containing the patient’s medical information to her brother. The brother had posed as the patient’s husband during a call to the hospital.

The woman had been reviewed by Dr Soo for adjustment disorder, with depressed mood and alcohol misuse. She was noted to have a risk of self-harm as she had a history of depression, the tribunal said in its grounds of decision.

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Under Dr Soo's instructions, the hospital staff gave the memo containing the patient’s details to her brother, and he used the information to obtain a personal protection order against her.

The patient, who is unnamed in the grounds of decision, later filed a complaint with SMC. The disciplinary tribunal found that the disclosure had caused the patient much distress. Dr Soo was fined S$50,000 and ordered to pay court costs.

On Mar 14, nine days after the grounds of decision against Dr Soo were published, the SMC announced its decision to apply to the High Court for an extension to appeal for a reduction in the fine imposed on Dr Soo.

The brother of the patient subsequently published his account of the incident on social media.

SMC approached both the patient’s brother and husband to record new statements as a result.

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“These statements were not obtained by the Complaints Committee prior to its referral of the patient’s complaint against Dr Soo for a formal inquiry by a disciplinary tribunal,” the council said.

“As the new information raises doubt on the circumstances surrounding the incident, in the interest of justice, the SMC will be applying to the Court of Three Judges for Dr Soo’s conviction to be set aside,” it added in its statement.

“The SMC will provide the new information to the Court of Three Judges as part of this application.”

The Ministry of Health has formed a workgroup to undertake a review of SMC’s disciplinary process and to make appropriate recommendations.

“The SMC will provide its fullest support to the workgroup’s independent review and continue to review its disciplinary processes and ensure that all complaints are thoroughly investigated prior to any referral to a disciplinary tribunal,” the council said.

Source: CNA/mi(cy)

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