Singapore

Doctor suspended for allowing driver with eye condition to work

A doctor who let a shuttle bus driver continue working when his eyesight did not meet the required standards has been suspended for three months.

The Singapore Medical Council's disciplinary tribunal found Dr Sanjay Srinivasan of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) guilty of "serious negligence amounting to professional misconduct" for wrongly diagnosing the patient's eye condition and for letting him drive with affected eyesight.

The tribunal said that error of judgment by itself is not professional misconduct and mere negligence or professional incompetence or deficiencies is not professional misconduct. But Dr Sanjay's action "endangered the patient, the passengers and other road users".

In imposing the suspension, the tribunal wanted to send a message that "proper and careful clinical evaluation of a patient is vital".

The patient had gone to a polyclinic in October 2013 because of a sudden blurring of his right eye that had started two days before.

The doctor found his right vision to be 6/36 - which means that he can read letters at 6m that people with normal sight can read at 36m - and sent him to the eye clinic at KTPH that same day.

When Dr Sanjay, 45, examined him, he found his right vision to be 6/24. To drive a bus, the patient needs a vision of 6/12.

Dr Sanjay, who has more than 20 years of experience, told the patient he had mild cataract and suggested that he get spectacles.

He told him to return in six weeks for a review. He gave him only medical leave for that day.

The tribunal took issue with Dr Sanjay for not making it mandatory for the patient to get a pair of spectacles before going back to work.

He also did not give instructions that the spectacles needed to provide the patient with at least 6/12 vision, so he could continue driving a bus.

The next day, the patient returned to the polyclinic saying he had difficulty driving the bus because of his impaired vision.

This time, the doctor sent him to a hospital emergency department, which in turn sent him to an eye specialist. The doctor there gave him laser treatment and 15 days of medical leave.

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