Surgeon Susan Lim brings fight to highest court

PHOTO: Surgeon Susan Lim brings fight to highest court

SINGAPORE - Renowned millionaire surgeon Susan Lim is fighting against allegations that she overcharged her royal Brunei patient by taking her case to Singapore's Court of Appeal today.

She is appealing the High Court's decision to dismiss her attempt to stop the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) from bringing her before a disciplinary committee (DC) for a second time, The Straits Times reported.

Dr Lim was accused by the Health Ministry of grossly overcharging the late Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit, sister of Brunei's queen. She allegedly billed the patient $24.8 million for the seven months leading up to the patient's death in 2007.

Dr Lim argued that she provided extraordinary services such as arranging an evacuation flight. She also maintains she gave the patient a $12.1 million discount shortly after she died, and that her charges are reasonable based on her past earnings.

For this, she underwent an SMC DC review last year. However, the review was halted abruptly without decision in July, 2010, after Dr Lim's lawyers argued that the committee had pre-judged the case.

The SMC, which acts as a medical watchdog here in Singapore, then convened a second DC to hear the case.

Dr Lim then took the case to court, arguing that it was improper and biased to hold a second DC. She also sought to ensure that the SMC does not refer the same complaint to any committee in the future, arguing that such a move would be irrational.

However, the High Court dismissed her case. Justice Philip Pillai said she had failed to show SMC's decision as illegal or biased.

According to the Medical Registration Act, which governs the medical profession, the SMC may appoint a second DC upon revocation of the first, the judge said.

He added that there are no records showing personal bias or abuse of position by any SMC member.

Now Dr Lim is taking her case to the three-judge Court of Appeal to try to overturn Justice Pillai's decision.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong and Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and V. K. Rajah will hear the appeal.