SINGAPORE: A traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner was suspended for three years and fined S$5,000 after he administered various treatment that led to a patient having to amputate his leg from the knee down.
The TCM Practitioners Board said in a press release on Wednesday (Mar 13) that Lee Miing Chong had tried to shift the blame to the complainant when investigated.
Mr Lee, who practised at the Royal Acupuncture Specialist Centre in Toa Payoh, showed a "complete lack of remorse", the investigating committee said, and had lied during the inquiry hearing.
The patient, who had a medical history of diabetes and poor sensation in both feet, had lodged a complaint against Mr Lee on Apr 3, 2017, alleging professional misconduct and negligence over two consultations where Mr Lee administered heat lamp treatment, acupuncture and electric pulse treatment.
LEG AMPUTATED KNEE DOWN
During the first consultation on Jan 3, 2015, Mr Lee had used a heat lamp on the soles of the patient's feet, causing blisters to develop on the soles of his feet.
When the patient stepped on the ground and started walking, the blisters burst and fluid flowed out.
The patient immediately returned to Mr Lee, who cleaned his wounds, applied medication and bandaged his feet with gauze.
But the patient developed a high fever later that night which persisted until the next day, when he returned to Mr Lee for a second consultation.
During that consultation, Mr Lee administered acupuncture and electric pulse treatment on the patient, but his condition did not improve.
The condition of his feet worsened, resulting in him having to be admitted to hospital for severe burn wounds.
But the burn wounds did not heal due to the patient’s diabetes and his other conditions, and the man had to undergo below knee amputation of his left leg as his condition deteriorated.
"FABRICATION OF UNTRUTHS"
The investigating committee found that although Mr Lee’s heat lamp treatment was appropriate for the patient’s condition, the practitioner did not take “adequate precautions” and placed the lamp too close to the patient’s feet for too long, causing burns.
During the first consultation, the man had told the practitioner to be careful when administering the heat treatment because his feet had poor sensation.
The committee also said that Mr Lee had failed to inform the patient about risks of the heat lamp treatment or the other available treatment options.
It found that Mr Lee had "failed to render appropriate and generally accepted method of TCM treatment" to the patient after he had suffered thermal burn injuries.
"Given the seriousness of the complainant’s injuries which was evident from the fluid-filled blisters, Mr Lee should have advised the complainant to seek immediate medical attention," the committee wrote.
Mr Lee instead proceeded to administer acupuncture and electric impulse treatment, causing a delay in the patient seeking appropriate treatment for his burn injuries.
This amounted to professional misconduct and/or negligence, said the committee.
When deciding its recommendations to the TCM Practitioners Board, the committee noted that although Mr Lee was a first time offender, it had to take into consideration the serious nature of Mr Lee’s misconduct and the "severe outcome" suffered by the patient.
It also noted Mr Lee’s attempt during the inquiry to shift the blame to the patient, his “complete lack of remorse” and his “fabrication of untruths” during the inquiry hearing.
In addition to his S$5,000 fine and three-year suspension, Mr Lee was also issued a censure and ordered to pay all costs and expenses related to the inquiry.
The safety of patients is of paramount importance when administering TCM treatments, the board said in their statement.
“The board advises TCM practitioners to exercise great care and prudence when prescribing and/or administering heat treatments on patients with diabetes,” it added.