Voices

What’s the point of suspending doctor in Kawasaki case?

From

Lee Siew Peng

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Published: 9:40 AM, July 17, 2017

I was perturbed by the report “Paediatrician suspended 3 months for failing to diagnose child with life-threatening disease” (June 28, online), about a paediatrician being suspended for not running tests to disprove Kawasaki disease in a young child.

Is it ethical to suspend a doctor who had an unblemished record until this incident? As a social anthropologist trained to “do no harm”, I am most concerned with the human fallout.

Has the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) considered the impact on other children who, owing to this suspension, cannot now be treated by the doctor at her clinic in a public housing estate?

Can the SMC say its decision to suspend an otherwise reputable doctor is to ensure that she does no further harm, rather than to ensure justice or that justice is seen to be done?

And whose justice — the child’s, his parents’, the doctor’s, other patients’ or the SMC’s? Besides reminding us that doctors are not God, with all-knowing powers, such decisions serve to satisfy the complainants’ intent.

Crucially, might such suspensions cause harm to other patients?