Doctor who told patient health screening results were normal when they were not fined $10,000

SINGAPORE – A doctor who wrongly told a patient – later diagnosed with colorectal cancer – that his medical results were good, has pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to exercise due care in managing the patient.

In the grounds of decision released by the Disciplinary Tribunal in April, Dr Fernandes Mark Lee was charged with failing to accurately communicate test results of the patient’s health screening.

He was censured and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000, the Singapore Medical Council said in a statement on Monday (June 5).

Dr Fernandes was also ordered to give a written undertaking to the SMC stating that he will not engage in similar conduct, and to foot the costs and expenses of the proceedings, including the costs of the SMC solicitors.

At the time, Dr Fernandes, who has 10 years’ experience, was a gastroenterologist with Asia HealthPartners at Lucky Plaza.

On Feb 9, 2012, the patient went for a health screening at the clinic and was later told over the phone that his medical results were good and a review with a doctor was unnecessary.

The report, which the patient also received in the mail, was prepared and signed off by Dr Fernandes.

However, 20 months later, the patient was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and had to undergo surgery and six months of chemotherapy.

Upon closer reading of the medical report, it was discovered that Dr Fernandes had erroneously stated in its summary page that the patient’s cancer markers were normal when in fact laboratory results attached showed that the cancer markers were high and “abnormal”.

Also, no arrangement was made to explain the results in greater detail and to advise the patient on the appropriate follow-up treatment or management.

The patient made a complaint against Dr Fernandes in a letter addressed to the SMC in June 2014.

The Disciplinary Tribunal said in the grounds of decision: “As a result of the error in the respondent’s (Dr Fernandes’) report and the lack of a detailed, in-person review of the results with the patient, the patient lost the opportunity to take earlier appropriate follow-up action.”

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