Recalcitrant doctor fined $24,000 by watchdog

A recalcitrant doctor has been fined $24,000 by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for sending patients' specimens and samples to unaccredited medical laboratories in the United States.

It comes five years after Dr Wong Yoke Meng was fined the same amount by the then Subordinate Courts for the offences.

The court had found that the 68-year-old's offences were a breach of a condition of the licence for his aesthetic clinic at Paragon Medical Centre.

Last month, he was punished by the medical watchdog's disciplinary tribunal for the sixth time in 14 years.

His offences took place between 2007 and 2009 when he was the licensee of Clinique Suisse - now known as La Clinic.

The obstetrician and gynaecologist by training is listed on the clinic's website as Dr Cecil Wong.

The clinic said he was overseas and he could not be reached for comment.

In judgment grounds released yesterday, the SMC said that at the heart of its May 5 inquiry was whether it was just and fair that Dr Wong, who had been sentenced by the courts and paid the penalties, should be liable to further penalties under the Medical Registration Act.

The SMC charged him with "bringing disrepute to the medical profession... by virtue of his convictions" by the courts. The tribunal said there was "neither any injustice nor unfairness to further penalties" as proceedings in the courts and the tribunal were "completely separate and distinct".

In considering a suitable punishment, the tribunal found his offences reflected a disregard for his patients' health and safety.

It also noted that, given a previous offence in 2001 - when he allowed his clinic to be used for cosmetic treatment in breach of licence conditions by the Health Ministry - he should have exercised greater caution "whenever he thought of doing something out of the ordinary".

The offence in 2001 led to his first conviction by the SMC. The second was in 2010, when he was convicted of publishing misleading statements in an advertisement. It gave the wrong impression that he was a pioneer of stem cell treatment.

In two further brushes with the SMC, he was punished for advertising and offering medically unproven treatments.

In 2011, the SMC found him guilty of 13 charges of professional misconduct. These included carrying out procedures which were not medically proven and not getting patients' informed consent before carrying out procedures.

He was given a one-year suspension, on account of three of the charges. He filed an appeal to the High Court. It was heard in September 2011 and dismissed in less than 15 minutes.

This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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