Singapore

Court clears top cardiologist of professional misconduct

Chief Justice says it was 'improbable' that patient did not discuss risks and options of procedure with doctor

Prominent doctor Leslie Lam has been cleared of all allegations of professional misconduct brought by a patient, whose condition improved after the cardiologist carried out a procedure using stents to open a blocked coronary artery.

The Court of Three Judges yesterday overturned the decision of a disciplinary tribunal to convict Dr Lam of a charge of failing to obtain informed consent before carrying out the procedure, known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), in March 2011.

Dr Lam, 75, said he felt vindicated by the court's decision.

He said he sincerely hopes that the patient can now put this incident behind him, and that they can all move on.

"I remain dedicated to caring for my patients to the best of my ability," he said.

Dr Lam, 75, had faced three charges of misconduct after the patient complained to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in August 2011.

The patient did not suffer any harm but alleged that Dr Lam had pressured him into undergoing an unnecessary and poorly done procedure for monetary gain, without telling him the risks.

Last November, a disciplinary tribunal cleared Dr Lam of two charges - of advising the patient to undergo a conventional angiogram and PCI without clinical evaluation, and failing to perform the PCI and stenting with proper skill and care.

But it convicted him of the third charge of failing to advise the patient of all the risks and alternatives, and imposed a three-month suspension.

Dr Lam, who maintained that the risks and alternatives had been discussed, appealed against the conviction in July.

Yesterday, in a 50-page written judgment, the court, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, allowed his appeal.

The court said the tribunal had failed to consider the patient's overall credibility.

It said it was "improbable" that the patient underwent the procedure without any discussion on the risks and options, in the light of the tribunal's conclusion that he was "a person who was knowledgeable and had his own views".

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