Doc says she did not cause liposuction death

PHOTO: Doc says she did not cause liposuction death

SINGAPORE - Dr Zhu Xiu Chun said yesterday in court that she is not responsible for the death of property management firm boss Franklin Heng.

She said she had adequately monitored Mr Heng and adjusted the sedative used in the procedure according to his response.

The Straits Times reported Dr Zhu had however said that it was unsatisfactory that changes in dosage had not been recorded, according to practice guidelines for safe sedation.

The Myanmar-born doctor agreed with Mr Heng's family's lawyer that it would have been better to record the patient's vital signs every five minutes, instead of 15 as in this case.

Dr Zhu, also known as Dr Myint Myint Kyi, said she was called to help monitor Mr Heng's procedure by Dr Jim Wong who was conducting the surgery.

According to Health Ministry guidelines, while a registered nurse or a doctor can monitor a liposuction procedure, a doctor must be present during the procedure if propofol is used to intervene if there's deterioration of the patient.

Speaking on the third day of an inquest into the case, Dr Zhu said she ensured Mr Heng was on continuous oxygen supply throughout the procedure which lasted for three hours and twenty minutes.

Dr Zhu also ensured the equipment measuring his vital signs was in place during the surgery which started at 12.30pm and ended at 3.50pm.

The readings, which she reported to Dr Wong, were within the acceptable range and there was no snoring or other abnormal respiratory movement to suggest that Mr Heng's airway was disturbed.

She added that Dr Wong ordered the dosage of propofol to be adjusted during the procedure, according to the patient's response.

According to the national newspaper Dr Zhu left after the procedure ended. She was in her consultation room with a patient when she was informed of an emergency 25 minutes later.

Dr Wong had found Mr Heng pale and unresponsive after he returned from a five-minute toilet break.

According to Ms Kuah Boon Theng, who is representing Mr Heng's family, Mr Heng suffered multiple punctures in his organs as a result of the liposuction. He would therefore been in excruciating pain.

Ms Kuah suggested that the only possible reason Mr Heng did not show any obvious signs of pain, was that he had been more than moderately sedated.

Dr Zhu, who earlier said she did not see any signs of pain, agreed that she could not rule out the possibility.

She said this point was beyond her expertise and would be addressed by the experts who will testify later.