Near 200 complaints received on quality of medical services: Minister

SINGAPORE - Between 2009 and 2011, 189 complaints were made against the quality of medical services offered here, revealed Minster of Health Mr Gan Kim Yong in Parliament.

He was replying in a written answer to a question by Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Ms Sylvia Lim, who was seeking clarification on how complaints submitted to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) are handled.

Mr Gan said that of the 189 cases, the Complaints Committees took the following actions: 77 doctors were issued letters of advice, 11 doctors were issued letters of warning and 10 doctors were referred to the Disciplinary Committee or Tribunal.

There were 38 appeals to the Minister, of which 18 were for cases that were dismissed and another 18 for cases in which letters of advice were given.

The last two were for cases where letters of warning had been issued.

Of these 38 cases, the Minister said he directed that four be referred to the Disciplinary Committees/Disciplinary Tribunals for further inquiry.

The SMC was directed to change the determination of the Complaints Committees in another three appeals, he said.

He further affirmed the determination of the Complaints Committee for 20 of the appeals, while the remaining 11, which were lodged more recently, are undergoing review.

Ms Lim also asked what other recourse for compensation is available to patients who have been injured or killed as a result of medical procedures.

In response, Mr Gan said that apart from litigation, the Complaints Committees may refer the complainant and the doctor concerned to mediation, which serves as a means for doctors, hospitals or healthcare institutions to directly resolve complaints against them.

During the mediation, the parties may explore the possibility of compensation, he added.