Liposuction death: SMC seeks 3-year suspension for errant doc

This article is more than 12 months old

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) is seeking the maximum suspension term of three years for a negligent doctor who used a potent sedative during a liposuction procedure in 2009, causing the death of the patient.

SMC's lawyer also told the Court of Three Judges yesterday that the council would not object if the court decided to strike off Dr Jim Wong Meng Hang for unprecedented professional misconduct that was among "the worst of its kind".

Dr Wong had carried out a liposuction procedure on real estate firm boss Franklin Heng at his Orchard Road clinic in December 2009, but gave the patient too much sedative.

Left unattended, Mr Heng, 44, suffocated when his airway collapsed because of the heavy sedation.

The high-profile case was Singapore's first recorded death as a result of aesthetic treatment.

In 2014, Dr Wong, 43, was fined $26,000 for breaching medical regulations. Dr Zhu Xiu Chun, 55, who assisted him in the procedure, was fined $18,000.

In 2016, Dr Wong and Dr Zhu, also known as Myint Myint Kyi, were ordered to pay $3.26 million in damages to Mr Heng's family in a civil suit.

The two doctors also pleaded guilty to a charge of professional misconduct in disciplinary proceedings. They admitted that Mr Heng died as a result of their failure to adequately monitor him during the procedure.

SMC, represented by lawyer Philip Fong, sought a three-year suspension for Dr Wong and a two-year suspension for Dr Zhu. In December, a disciplinary tribunal suspended Dr Wong for 18 months and Dr Zhu for six months.

SMC then appealed to the Court of Three Judges.

Mr Fong argued that the "manifestly inadequate" suspension terms for gross negligence would severely undermine public confidence in the medical profession. He said that Dr Wong deserved the maximum suspension because his negligence had led directly to the patient's death.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Judith Prakash reserved judgment after hearing the arguments.

The court will give its decision at a later date.