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TCM practitioner suspended for burning feet of patient, who later lost part of left leg

SINGAPORE — A patient with diabetes and poor sensation in his feet went to see traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner Lee Miing Chong for general weakness and chills in January 2015.

Mr Lee Miing Chong, who practised at Royal Acupuncture Specialist Centre at Block 125, Toa Payoh Lorong 1, administered heat lamp treatment on a patient that resulted in burns to his feet.

Mr Lee Miing Chong, who practised at Royal Acupuncture Specialist Centre at Block 125, Toa Payoh Lorong 1, administered heat lamp treatment on a patient that resulted in burns to his feet.

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SINGAPORE — A patient with diabetes and poor sensation in his feet went to see traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner Lee Miing Chong for general weakness and chills in January 2015.

He ended up with wounds that did not heal due to his pre-existing conditions, and later lost part of his left leg.

For negligence and professional misconduct, Mr Lee was suspended for the maximum three years and fined S$5,000, the TCM Practitioners Board said in a press release on Wednesday (March 13).

Mr Lee, who practised at Royal Acupuncture Specialist Centre at Block 125, Toa Payoh Lorong 1, administered heat lamp treatment on the patient on Jan 3 in 2015.

This was an appropriate and generally accepted treatment, but Mr Lee placed the lamp too close to the soles of the patient’s feet for an extended period of time.

The patient, who was not named, suffered burns on his feet and developed blisters that burst and released fluid when he stepped on the ground and started walking. He immediately returned to the TCM centre and Mr Lee cleaned his wounds, applied medication and bandaged his feet with gauze.

Later that night, the patient developed a high fever that did not go away by the next day.

He went to see Mr Lee, who administered acupuncture and electric pulse treatment.

The patient did not get better and the condition of his feet worsened. He was later admitted to hospital for severe burn wounds.

The wounds did not heal due to his pre-existing conditions, which also included poor sensation in both feet. He eventually had his left leg amputated below the knee.

He filed a complaint with the TCM Practitioners Board in April 2017.

Investigations showed that Mr Lee failed to take adequate precautions and care when administering the heat lamp treatment, the board said. The patient told the TCM practitioner before the treatment that he had poor sensation in his feet and asked him to be careful.

And when Mr Lee saw the fluid-filled blisters on the patient’s feet, he should have advised him to seek immediate medical attention, the board added.

By administering acupuncture and electric pulse treatment, Mr Lee “caused a delay in the (patient) seeking appropriate medical treatment for his burn injury”, the board said.

While Mr Lee was a first-time offender, the investigation committee for the case noted the “serious nature” of his negligence and professional misconduct, and the severe outcome on the patient’s part.

Without providing details, the board said that Mr Lee tried to shift the blame for the severe outcome to the patient during the inquiry. He lacked remorse and “(fabricated) untruths during the inquiry”, it added.

The board stressed that the safety of patients is of paramount importance when registered TCM practitioners prescribe and administer treatments. They should exercise great care with patients who have diabetes.

Precautions that a TCM practitioner should take when administering heat treatments include maintaining a safe distance between the equipment and the area of the body being treated, and observing an “appropriate duration”, the board said.

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