No more full rider policies for health insurance

From today, all new IP rider policies will require a co-payment of 5 per cent or more.

Existing full-rider policyholders will not be affected.

The IP is a consolidated insurance plan made up of two components – Medishield Life, a health insurance run by the government’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, and private insurance.

Riders are optional add-ons on top of IPs. Currently, 29 per cent of Singaporeans are on full-rider policies.

About 100,000 of such policies are sold each year.


While Medishield Life and IP premiums can be paid for by Medisave, riders are paid out-of-pocket.

Although co-payment will be introduced for new rider policies, there will be a cap on the co-payment amount each year at $3,000 or more, ensuring that in the unlikely event of very large bills, policyholders minimise their risk exposure.

Medisave can also be tapped on to pay for co-payments under these new riders.

Minister of State Chee Hong Tat, who unveiled these changes at the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Committee of Supply debate yesterday, explained that these changes are to avoid “disturbing” instances of over-consumption and over-servicing that leads to higher healthcare costs.

According to statistics provided by MOH, 97 per cent of full-rider policyholders are below the age of 65, but have higher bill sizes at 60 per cent more than the average bill size for policyholders without riders, indicating a lack of prudence in medical spending.

Mr Chee raised the example of a patient who opted for a $70,000 surgery for a breast lump removal despite there being a $5,000 alternative that is equally effective.

Such “buffet syndrome” use of rider policies has led to claim escalation – total claims for IP and riders increased 22 per cent in a year – from $858m in 2015 to $1.05b in 2016.

As costs of claims are shared across the framework of Medishield Life, IP and riders, rider-free policyholders are also affected by the rise in claims.

Mr Chee said: “It is clear that full riders have a detrimental impact on overall healthcare costs in Singapore.”

To provide time for insurers to develop their new products, new rider policies will only have to be available by Apr 1 next year.

In the meantime, insurers can keep selling their existing rider policies but buyers will have to be informed that they have to switch to the new rider policies by Apr 1, 2021 with the option to switch earlier once the new policy is available.

Mr Chee added: “We expect the new riders to have lower premiums than full riders, so the switch will result in premium savings for policyholders.”



Health Insurance Plans

Singapore musician Iskandar Ismail dies of cancer

POSTED: 01 Nov 2014 18:36

Iskandar Ismail, who helmed national-scale productions including the National Day Parade, died of lung and brain cancer. He was 58.

SINGAPORE: Music composer and Cultural Medallion winner Iskandar Ismail died on Saturday (Nov 1) morning due to lung and brain cancer. The 58-year-old’s career spanned three decades.

He was behind the musical direction for some of Singapore’s national events, like the National Day Parade and 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

Mr Iskandar was born in 1956 to parents who were singers in the Malay music industry. The eldest of five children, his musical talent was unearthed at an early age. He received lessons from Zubir Said – the man behind Singapore’s national anthem. Mr Iskandar went on to study music in 1976 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

His foray into music started in the 1980s, and he soon found himself collaborating with singers like Dick Lee and Anita Sarawak.

Last year, he published Iskandar Ismail The Music Man – a book that chronicled his path towards musical excellence. The aim was to share his stories with aspiring musicians.

“Today’s musicians can’t only learn one genre of music,” he said in an interview in 2013. “They have to learn different genres of music for the long term.”

Mr Iskandar was known for musical fusion – mixing East and West, as well as classical and pop. His works also went beyond Singapore, where he arranging music for some of Asia’s top singers like Sandy Lam and Aaron Kwok.

Mr Iskandar’s biggest honour came in 2008 when he was conferred the Cultural Medallion – Singapore’s top cultural award.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2010, and had surgery to remove a tumour in his lungs in 2011. He also went through 25 months of oral chemotherapy and seemingly recovered. But the cancer resurfaced in 2013 and he had to go through 15 rounds of radiotherapy.


Tributes have poured in, honouring the musical talent. Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong said on Facebook he was sad to learn of Mr Iskandar’s passing, adding his works made music more accessible to Singaporeans. He also described Mr Iskandar as a passionate “man of music”.

Former Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah said he had worked with Mr Iskandar since the competition.

“I’m always in awe of his working ethics. He was very kind and laid-back, yet a master of his craft. His talent and dedication is irreplaceable and is a great loss to our music industry,” he said.

Malay self-help group Mendaki also paid recognition for Mr Iskandar’s involvement in some of the organisation’s initiatives. He was a mentor in Project Protege, a talent development programme launched two years ago.

Friends also remembered him as one who was big-hearted.

“In 2010, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he kept it as a secret from me because we were preparing for a big concert in 2011 for the National Cancer Centre,” said Maryanne Tan, who had raised funds with Mr Iskandar for various charities. “And the last concert we did together was in 2012, where we raised funds for the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital. He came straight after chemotherapy.”

Family and friends paid their last respects to Mr Iskandar at his mother’s home.

Mr Iskandar leaves behind a wife, son and daughter. He was laid to rest at the Muslim Cemetery in Lim Chu Kang.

– CNA/xq



Monday, Nov 03, 2014
The Straits Times
By Salma Khalik

SINGAPORE – Out of 29 clinics now offering liposuction, the removal of fat for aesthetic reasons, only nine will be allowed to continue doing so.

From March next year, liposuction treatment can be done only in hospitals or clinics approved for day surgery, under new Ministry of Health (MOH) rules to tighten control of this procedure and improve patient safety.

Liposuction has already led to at least two deaths here in the past five years.

In a statement issued yesterday, the MOH said: “As a highly invasive procedure, liposuction has been known to cause severe complications, including death. Hence, it should be carried out only by trained doctors in well-equipped and well-staffed facilities.”

Under the new rules, the removal of more than one litre of fat from one spot will have to be done in a hospital as an inpatient treatment.

So will any liposuction for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 28 and below, or who require general anaesthesia. A BMI higher than 28 is considered obese in Asians.

Until now, these could be done at clinics licensed to do day surgery, which are called ambulatory surgical centres.

In future, these centres will be allowed to do only liposuctions that involve less than one litre of fat.

All clinics that are now licensed to do liposuction have been informed of the changes, which are already in effect, but will not be enforced till March 1 next year, to give them a grace period to wind down their liposuction treatments.

Regulations on doctors and clinics allowed to do liposuction were instituted in November 2008, and revised in 2010, following a rise in the number of general practitioners offering the treatment.

The Straits Times reported last year that there were 38 general practitioners and 24 specialists, including plastic surgeons, accredited to perform liposuction in Singapore. Latest figures show that only 24 doctors have full accreditation, with another 34 having conditional accreditation. Doctors working in hospitals do not need this accreditation.

Plastic surgeon Leslie Kuek, one of the 24 fully accredited doctors, said the changes would mean he will have to perform the treatment somewhere else, as his clinic is not a surgical centre. “I don’t understand the rationale behind this. It would be useful for the MOH to have a dialogue with senior doctors in private practice over the changes,” he said.

In December 2009, real estate firm boss Franklin Heng, 44, died after the doctor doing the liposuction accidentally punctured his intestines several times. In June last year, Ms Mandy Yeong, 44, died following her liposuction procedure at a Clarke Quay clinic. Fat loosened during the treatment blocked the blood vessels in her lungs, causing difficulty in breathing.

Doctor fined and censured for damaging patient’s hand during liposuction treatment

SINGAPORE – A general practitioner who specialises in aesthetic treatments has been fined and censured by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for damaging a patient’s hand during a liposuction treatment.

Dr Kevin Teh, a 40-year-old doctor with the Singapore Lipo, Body and Face Centre, was alleged to have damaged rescue swimmer Michael Balensiefer’s hand during a liposuction treatment in 2009.

Mr Balensiefer, 36, appealed to then Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan about his case. Mr Khaw then directed the SMC to hold a disciplinary hearing on the case. The hearing took place last year and this year.

In its grounds of decision on this case, which was published on Tuesday, the SMC’s disciplinary committee found that Dr Teh had “made a series of misjudgements which ultimately culminated in him dishonestly trying to cover his tracks”.

Mr Balensiefer had gone to Dr Teh’s clinic seeking liposuction treatment to remove the “love handles” from his lower back.

Under his medical history, Mr Balensiefer indicated in his Patient Registration Form that he was allergic to Amoxycillin – a common antibiotic. However, Dr Teh’s clinic manager failed to record that when keying the information into the clinic’s computer system.

The process error resulted in Dr Teh prescribing a medication containing Amoxycillin to Mr Balensiefer, who took it as part of the pre-operation medication.

Dr Teh subsequently discovered the process error but went ahead with the procedure, by intravenously administering an anti-histamine to counteract any allergic reaction the consumption of Amoxycillin may have caused.

When Mr Balensiefer woke up from the procedure, his right hand was swollen, painful, and numb. In the week that followed, the swelling persisted and also extended to his lower arm. Within two weeks of the procedure, his right thumb was “dusky” coloured and a surgeon at Tan Tock Seng Hospital found 15cm of blocked artery in Mr Balensiefer’s right hand.

He was operated on and most of the blockage was removed. His thumb was also saved from amputation, although there is “permanent compromise to his hand’s blood circulation”, and some of his right hand’s muscles have also “wasted away”, stated the grounds of decision. He has been advised to change his career as a rescue swimmer with the US Navy.

Dr Teh realised that he had not recorded Mr Balensiefer’s allergy history during his first consultation on March 12, 2009, so he tampered with the Casenotes and made it seem as though the allergy history was recorded on that date, when it was in fact a late insertion of information.

“The information entered in the Casenotes was not in and of itself inaccurate”, but it reflected “Dr Teh’s intention to avoid scrutiny of his conduct”, said the grounds of decision.

Dr Teh has been fined $10,000, censured, and asked to give a written undertaking to the SMC to abstain in future from falsifying or causing to be falsified any patient’s medical records.

He has also been ordered to pay 70 per cent of the costs of, and incidental to, the disciplinary proceedings, including the costs of counsel to the SMC and the Legal Assessor.

The grounds of decision also added that since this incident, Dr Teh has since reformed much of his clinic’s standard operating procedures with regard to the administration of medications, and the changes “point to Dr Teh having learned from his mistakes”. Dr Teh has no other disciplinary antecedents.

Bankrupt doctor starts serving jail term for money transfers to lover

SINGAPORE – A general practitioner who once claimed to be the “poorest doctor in Singapore” started serving a 10-week jail term on Monday after the High Court dismissed his appeal for transferring more than $190,000 to his lover and her brother within five years before he was made bankrupt.

Andrew Chee Weng Kheong, 58, was found guilty by a district court in March this year of four charges under the Bankruptcy Act. He was acquitted of five similar charges involving $515,680.

In March 2003, Chee deposited Toto winnings of $671,914 into a joint account with his wife. But in March 2004, a month after his wife filed for divorce, he made a flurry of transfers from this account to his lover, clinic assistant Lew Yek Yeong.

Chee was declared a bankrupt in October 2006 after his ex-wife, Ms Elizabeth Lim Choo Suan, applied for a bankruptcy order after he failed to pay her share of matrimonial assets.

On Monday, he appealed against his conviction and sentence, maintaining that the transfers were merely repayments to Ms Lew for loans he had taken from her. “It would be sad if the court allows my ex-wife to destroy me,” he said.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang argued that Chee had failed to produce any documentary evidence of the repayment schedule of the alleged loans.

Chee has previously been jailed several times after his ex-wife took out contempt of court proceedings to send him to prison for not complying with a court order to pay her maintenance. At one hearing, he insisted that he was unable to pay as he was the “poorest doctor in Singapore”.



TITLE: Doctor’s appeal in case of botched nose job dismissed


TODAY reports: Dr Amaldass, a general practitioner, was censured by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in May this year and sentenced to a four-month suspension as well as a S$5,000 fine for failing to discharge duty of care.

SINGAPORE: He performed a nose job in February 2008 without properly sedating his patient and also left a piece of gauze in the man’s nasal cavity, intending to remove it later, but did not inform him about it.

Dr Amaldass Narayana Dass also left a piece of knotted thread in the area between the patient’s eyebrows.

And when performing a second nose job on the man about 10 days later, the doctor did not remove the implant despite overwhelming evidence of an infection.

Dr Amaldass, a general practitioner, was censured by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in May this year and sentenced to a four-month suspension as well as a S$5,000 fine for failing to discharge duty of care.

The doctor, who felt the suspension was unnecessary, appealed against his sentence, but his appeal was dismissed by the Court of Three Judges on Tuesday (Nov 11).

His lawyer Niru Pillai had argued that his client’s suspension period was excessive compared with sentences meted out in other cases, but the panel of judges, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, said sentencing is specific to the facts of each case.

Dr Amaldass, 44, was running his own practice – Advanced Aesthetics and Surgery in Orchard Building – when he performed rhinoplasty on make-up artist Sng Hock Guan, 43, who had previously undergone five nasal reconstructions.

Mr Sng lodged a complaint with the SMC on April 1, 2010.

Dr Amaldass pleaded guilty last year to failing to discharge a duty of care to Mr Sng. A charge of dishonestly holding himself out as a specialist was withdrawn, as part of the plea bargain with the prosecution.

The SMC’s disciplinary committee found that Dr Amaldass had failed to uphold the most elementary of professional standards when he failed to properly sedate Mr Sng. He had also endangered the patient when he failed to remove the implant despite the infection, breaching the fundamental tenet to do no harm.

The SMC’s lawyers, led by senior counsel Tan Chee Meng, did not have to address the court yesterday. In written submissions, they argued that Dr Amaldass’ conduct throughout the disciplinary proceedings had shown a lack of contrition.

He had written to the disciplinary committee after its verdict, challenging its finding that Mr Sng was in “indubitable agony”.

Dr Amaldass’ suspension of four months was justified by the seriousness of the breaches and well within the range of three to six months supported by previous cases involving similar offences, SMC’s lawyers argued.

Dr Amaldass, who is married to model Junita Simon, has given up his private practice and undertaken not to practise aesthetic medicine again, said documents tendered in court. He is currently working as a locum at a public hospital.

The doctor was sombre throughout the hearing yesterday. He was earlier sued by Mr Sng and ordered to pay S$250,000, on top of legal costs, to the patient in 2011.



POSTED: 12 Nov 2014 07:21
Related news articles:


24 September 2014: Singapore gained an overall 4th place in the latest medical tourism ranking, the only Asian destination to reach the top five placements in a study of 25 nations, worldwide.

Canada topped the overall medical tourism ranking with a score of 76.87 followed by the UK 74.85, Israel 74.17, Singapore 73.96 and Costa Rica 72.78, the International Healthcare Research Centre announced today.

Philippines was the only other Asian destination cited in the top ranking. It was third with a rating of 73.17 in the sub-category on medical tourism costs.


Overall, the Philippines was in 9th place with a score of 70.4

In the overall ratings, Thailand was ranked 20th out of 25 countries reviewed with an overall score of 65.46. India was ranked 9th with a score of 70.4.

The Medical Tourism Index, which measures the attractiveness of a country for medical travel along three key dimensions and 34 underlying criteria identified the top destinations in a variety of sub-categories.

Canada also topped the category for “country environment” and medical tourism costs”; Costa Rica and Jamaica for “destination attractiveness”; Israel and Singapore for “medical facility and service.”

Medical Tourism Association president Renée-Marie Stephano, announced the conclusions at the 7th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, 20 to 24 September in Washington D.C.

“This information provides not only what patients need to know when planning a medical journey overseas, but serves as a valuable tool for governments, employers and insurance companies, hospitals and doctors, facilitators and related travel and hospitality industries throughout the world.”


The 2014 Medical Tourism Index considered 25 countries – about 60% of the world’s population — from Africa, Asia, Central America, Middle East, South America and North America.

“Many countries are touting their healthcare services, costs, safety and security, and locations to attract foreign patients,” said Medical Tourism Index co-developer, Marc Fetscherin who is also associate professor of international business and marketing at Rollins College.

“IHRC – through the Medical Tourism Index and related analysis – serves as a trusted and evidence-based support mechanism to achieve their goals.”

For the complete 2014 Medical Tourism Index, go to:

The International Healthcare Research Centre (IHRC) promotes transparency and improves global healthcare quality, population health management, expanded access to care, and the consumer healthcare experience. IHRC is non-profit research centre, headquartered in the United States.




he Medical Tourism Association® is the first membership-based international non-profit trade organisation for the medical tourism and healthcare industry made up of top international hospitals, healthcare providers, medical travel facilitators, insurance companies, and other affiliates.





SINGAPORE — Officially opened yesterday, the new National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) — 12 storeys high and four times larger than its previous size — is expected to help the Republic cope with a projected rise in heart diseases.

Officially opened yesterday, the new National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) — 12 storeys high and four times larger than its previous size — is expected to help the Republic cope with a projected rise in heart diseases.

And such upgrades to Singapore’s specialist centres, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, are an important part of making sure the Republic’s healthcare system — which is already of high quality — is able to keep serving people’s changing needs.

Located at Outram in a cluster of healthcare institutions that includes the Singapore General Hospital, the NHCS is aimed at treating those with complex heart conditions and also serves as a training ground and facility for research.

Mr Lee, who was guest-of-honour at the official opening, said specialist centres deliver high-quality care to patients. In the case of the NHCS, it can perform primary angioplasty procedures for emergency cases — in which a balloon is used to widen a constricted artery — in a median time span of 65 minutes — well below the international standard of 90 minutes.

These specialist centres, he added, are “peaks of excellence” in Singapore’s healthcare system.

The new NHCS building has three operating theatres, with the capacity to expand that number to six. A new short-stay unit for patients undergoing elective procedures will help the centre free up inpatient beds and reduce the size of bills that patients face when they leave, said Adjunct Professor Terrance Chua, its medical director.

Fully-equipped training facilities also mean medical staff and allied healthcare workers would be able to attend training sessions right where they work. Professor Chua said one-and-a-half floors of the centre would be devoted to research with the National Heart Research Institute Singapore.

“Embedding our clinicians, researchers and educators together in a single building will increase opportunities for the exchange of ideas between clinicians and researchers, inspire our students and trainees to learn more about the entire spectrum of cardiac care, and make it easier for us to engage our patients in research,” he said.

But while the centre focuses on heart diseases, Prof Chua said its services are not meant for every heart patient. “Many patients can be evaluated by their primary care physician and those who have signs of more complex disease, who have evidence of coronary disease, (those) will be referred to us,” he said.

Yesterday, Mr Lee also outlined other measures the Government has put in place to prepare for an ageing population and improve access to primary care. He reiterated how new polyclinics, hospitals and nursing homes are being built, while existing ones are being upgraded.

The Government hopes to add another 4,000 hospital beds over the next few years. It also plans to increase the number of nursing home beds to 17,000 by 2020.

The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which subsidises the low-income and visits by the pioneer generation to their general practitioners and dentists, now covers more people as well, said Mr Lee.

The qualifying age of 40 years old for CHAS was removed this year to allow young, low-income Singaporeans qualify for the scheme.

About 313,000 Singaporeans were covered under CHAS as of September last year. That figure has shot up to about 850,000 as of last month.

The number of private general practitioners and dental clinics participating in CHAS has also increased by 24 per cent.


Article from



SINGAPORE – A doctor has been suspended for a year after two disciplinary tribunal inquiries were held against him in June, the Singapore Medical Council said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dr Khoo Buk Kwong, 53, who had been practising at Healthplus Clinic in Choa Chu Kang, had been earlier convicted in the Subordinate Courts of causing hurt to a police officer on duty and for selling codeine and promethazine without a licence. He was sentenced to two weeks in jail for the first offence and fined $60,000 for the second.

Disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him as his convictions implied a defect in character which made him unfit for the medical profession, the council said. In his mitigation, Dr Khoo told the first tribunal that he had been under “tremendous” stress due to family and personal circumstances, having been declared bankrupt due to failed investments since 2010.

He was suspended for three months starting from July 12 this year for the first offence and nine months for the second offence. He was also ordered to pay the cost of the disciplinary tribunal inquiries. The suspensions, which run consecutively, will end on July 11 next year.

– See more at:


Westpoint Hospital –

  • Resident Medical Officer for 24 hours walk in clinic
  • Health Screening Medical Officer
  • Nursing Home Resident Medical Officer
  • Locum Doctor
  • Pharmacist
  • Staff Nurse
  • Intensive Care Unit Staff Nurse 


 Farrer Park Hospital –

  • Radiographer
  • Staff Nurse
  • Assistant Nurse
  • Assistant Manager of Haematology
  • Day Surgery Nurse
  • Infection Control manager
  • Medical Affairs Manager
  • Concierge
  • Operating Theatre Technician
  • Phlebotomist
  • Pharmacist

Healthcare Jobs in Singapore – May 2014

 Mount Elizabet Novena Hospital

  • Nurse
  • Nursing Manager
  • Ward Nurse
  • OT Nurse
  • A&E Nurse
  • Concierge
  • Admin Assistant
  • Patients Account Officer
  • Assistant OT Technician 
  • Healthcare Assistant
  • Therapy Assistant
  • Hospital Cooks
Home Nursing Foundation

  • Director of Nursing
  • Communications & Development Manager
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Nurse
Alliance Healthcare
  • Full time clinic assistant
  • Part time clinic assistant

KK Womens and Childrens Hospital

  • Clinic Assistants (Obstetrics and Gynaecology)
  • Patient Assistants

National Heart Centre

  • Patient Services Assistant for Clinics
  • Retail Assistant for Pharmacy
  •  Healthcare Attendant
  • Executive, Academic Clinical Program
  • Events Executive
  • Business Office Executive
  • Rehabilitatioin Nurse
  • Assistant Engineer, Biomedical Engineering
National Cancer Centre

  • Staff Nurse
  • Radiographer
  • Patient Care Officer
  • Pharmacy Technician

Thomson Medical Centre

  • Resident Medical Officer
  • Enrolled Nurse
  • Staff Nurse
  • Patient Service Officer
  • Medical Technologist

Fortis Seeks to Exit Singapore Healthcare Business

By P.R. Venkat and Cynthia Koons

Fortis Healthcare Ltd. has put its Singapore assets up for sale as part of a push to focus on its domestic market, people with knowledge of the deal said, in what would be the latest overseas disposal by the Indian-owned hospital firm.

Run by billionaire brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, Fortis expanded in countries from Australia to Vietnam. But in recent years, the company has cut its overseas exposure with sales of hospital stakes in Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore. It has, in the process, reduced its debt levels. It is now looking to sell its remaining Singapore interests, namely three hospitals–Fortis Surgical Hospital, RadLink-Asia and Singapore Radiopharmaceuticals–which could raise about US$150 million, the people said.

A Fortis spokesman declined to comment, but said the company is focused on its home market. “Our stated position is that we want to focus on India operations, particularly on hospitals and diagnostics.”

The Indian company first moved to Singapore in March 2010 when it spent US$685 million to acquire a 25% stake in Parkway Holdings Ltd., a health care operator in the city-state.

But the investment was short-lived. Just four months after they bought the stake, the brothers lost a takeover battle for Parkway to IHH Healthcare Bhd., a hospital operator backed by Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Parkway, which operates both Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, has been aggressive in its Asian expansion. Last year, Parkway announced plan to build a Gleneagles Hospital in Hong Kong.

The Singh brothers sold their Parkway stake and made a profit of 116.7 million Singapore dollars ($92 million). Apart from that, Fortis has raised nearly another US$700 million with stake sales. It sold its investment in Hong Kong’s Quality Healthcare for US$355 million late last year and unloaded Dental Corp. Holdings Ltd in Australia for another $276 million.

In selling its Singapore assets, Fortis is hoping to capitalize on a wave of recent interest in health care deals in the region. Last year, about $24.7 billion worth of health-care deals were reachedin Asia, according to Dealogic, a 72% increase from a year earlier and the highest level of deal activity for the sector in more than a decade.

Asia’s growing middle classes are creating more demand for health-care services and private-equity firms have taken an interest, due to the steady returns offered.

In India, health care deal volume more than doubled last year to $4.7 billion. In Southeast Asia, volume more than doubled to $1.9 billion.

Fortis has health care operations in India, Singapore, Dubai, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. It has 65 facilities including projects under development, more than 10,000 potential beds, and more than 240 diagnostic centers. Fortis says the Indian health-care sector is growing at an annual rate of 15% and revenues are expected to hit US$150 billion by 2017.

Sean McLain contributed to this article.

Write to P.R. Venkat at and Cynthia Koons at

1. The Waiting Time is Long

The universal rule of demand and supply applies.  There is this good doctor.  And there is only one of him or her.  Well, guess what?  There is indeed a lot of people who would want to see this particular doctor !  It does sound very much like deciding on which Char Kway Teow stall to buy your noodles from in a food centre.  A good reputation as a doctor takes a long time to build.  And when a level of reputation is achieved, one can be certain that patients keep coming back for more.  And not only them, but their parents, cousins, colleagues, nephews and nieces too.  Try not to give up waiting for a good doctor, there is a reason for his or her popularity.  Some of us feel happy to be the only patient in a clinic, seemingly given exclusive attention by numerous staff.  But wait.  Ask yourself: Why is no one else here ?

2. The Specialist Does Not Offer Extras 

A specialist has chosen sometime in their medical training to focus on a certain area of practice.   And most of them stuck to that area when they were employed in a public hospital.  But when they arrived in the jungle of private practise, things changed.  Free of institutional restrictions, GPs and specialists begin to offer more services and products.  It is now well known that many doctors can undergo a short course and rebrand themselves as Aesthetics Doctors, which is pretty specialist-sounding to most people.  And so, if the GPs can do it, why can’t other specialists?  And so they do.  Is your specialist concentrating on the liver or kidney or ovaries, or is he/she offering you botox, liposuction or “body contouring”, and even “medical grade” face creams and skin cleansers ?   I have a hard time believing all this extras is not profit-driven.  I, for one, will not be a patient of a clinic that is competing for the beauty parlour dollar.  Who knows, maybe one day some doctors might offer “medical grade” manicures too?   Take a good look at your doctor’s website.  Make sure the physician or surgeon is indeed a specialist and not the proverbial Jack of All Trades.

5 ways to tell if the doctor is good

3. No Excessive Advertising – Preferably None !

In the days of old, when doctors were forbidden to advertise, reputations were built through word of mouth.   These days doctors advertise themselves no differently from manufacturers of mobile phones, soft drinks, running shoes and toys.  Their advertisements can be seen in newspapers, lifestyle magazines, and on the Internet.  If you are reading this, chances are high you have been searching for good doctors and spotted many Google ads in the search results.  Doctors should have websites.  The information on the website helps potential patients or their loved ones to find a suitable doctor online.   But I see advertising as a weakness of a medical professional who is not happy just to build a good reputation through word of mouth or peer recommendation.   And as the number of medical advertisement increases, the temptation to aggrandise themselves escalates.  Their clinic is suddenly “premier”.  The doctor is “renowned”.   Taglines and slogans now abound: “Exquisite Tummy Tucks” and “Bigger Breasts Now!” says an ad from a cosmetic surgeon.  “Relief your pain instantly!”.   And if you click on enough of these ads, you might have noticed that some doctors buy numerous slots such that no matter which ad you click on, it always leads to the same doctor !

4. The Doctor Stays Put in One Place

While not always true, most good doctors with a sizeable following stay in one hospital or medical centre.  They generally have too many patients to cope with in one hospital and feel it is best to be available all the time in case the hospital wards need them urgently.   So if your specialist’s address is at Mount Alvernia, he or she should be stationed there most of the time.  Some doctors run a “satellite clinic” somewhere else.  This secondary clinic serves to “catch” potential patients in an HDB estate or a shopping mall who would otherwise not go to a hospital.  Then there are doctors who seem to be operating in a few hospitals in any given week.  2 days in Mount Alvernia, Wednesdays in Novena and another 2 days in Mount Elizabeth.  Now, I have serious reservations about that.  Are they spreading their bets and trying to catch as many patients in as many places as possible?  Will he be in the right hospital when I really need him to see me ?  I am not sure.

5. The Doctor  Tells You to Take Your Time

Many patients complain that they felt rushed into a decision about surgery.  Let us face it.  Surgeons earn money doing surgery.  One more surgery that week is going to increase his income a fair bit.  Let us suppose the surgery is indeed necessary.  I would want my surgeon to explain the rationale for the surgery.  And I will need time to think about it.  And I might want to seek a second opinion.  And possibly even a third opinion if the type of surgery is rare or risky.    A Vietnamese patient once commented that her surgeon rushed her to make a decision regarding surgery because it was a “serious” condition, but at the same time suggested that she can get a breast surgeon colleague to increase her bustline.  Alarm bells went off in her head and she immediately looked around for other doctors.  And fortunately for her, she found another surgeon who does that operation for a much lower cost, without the boobs-upsizing side dish.

Joop Ave, Indonesia’s former Minister of Tourism and Telecommunications, passed away at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Singapore from complications due to various illnesses. He was 79.

His body will be flown to Indonesia on Thursday and will be cremated in Bali.

Tourism ministry spokesman Noviendi Makalam said Joop passed away at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

“According to the plan, he will be taken to Denpasar, Bali, on Thursday morning to be cremated on Saturday, Feb. 8,” Noviendi said.

The Yogyakarta-born former minister helped promote Indonesian tourism at the international level in the 1990s, Noviendi said.

Joop served as the minister from 1993 to 1998 under former president Suharto.

“We all feel saddened by the loss of Joop Ave, the father who made Indonesian tourism as big as it is today,” Noviendi said.

“Ibu Mari Pangestu [the current tourism minister] will fly to Bali and attend the cremation ceremony on Friday,” he added.

He served as Head of the Household of the Presidential Palace from 1972 to 1978.

The founder of Sri Rejeki Isman Textile Group and one of the richest men in Indonesia, H.M. Lukminto, died on Wednesday night, according to family sources in Singapore. He was 67 years old.

Lukminto had been receiving medical treatment in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore, since Jan. 31.

According to Sumartono Hadinoto, a Surakarta People’s Association (PMS) spokesman, “Lukminto had planned to go to Singapore for a check-up without any signs of a serious health issue, but his condition drastically declined. I was shocked to hear he passed away last night.”

Lukminto’s son, Iwan Lukminto, said his father had suffered a heart attack. The Solo businessman leaves behind a wife, three daughters and two sons. His body was transported to Solo on Thursday.

The beloved textile king will be laid to rest next week at the Delingan cemetery in Karanganyar, Central Java.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will visit Solo to pay his last respects.

In addition to his successful business in textiles, Lukminto was also known for his philanthropy, having made multiple contributions to Solo’s social development. He helped in the construction of a sports arena, founded a basketball team, and was responsible for the renovation of the Wayang Orang theater.

“He was exemplary man in business and society,” Sumartono said.

As founder of the largest integrated textile company in Southeast Asia, Lukminto was one of the richest businessmen in Indonesia. The Sri Rejeki Isman Textil (Sritex) Group is most famous for producing military uniforms exported to more than 70 countries. The textile giant currently employs more than 40,000 workers, making it one of the largest employers in Indonesia’s private sector.

80 per cent of liver cancer occur in Asia

KUCHING: Asia has the highest incidence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma or Liver Cancer as 80 per cent of the cases worldwide occur in the continent.

A former student of St Joseph’s Secondary school here, Singapore-based liver cancer specialist Professor Dr Pierce Chow said liver cancer is most common in Asia because of chronic hepatitis B and C.

From his research works in Singapore, Chow said, most of the cancer patients there were of Chinese origin and he believed the situation could be the same in the state.

Chow said liver is the only organ in the human body that can regenerate itself.

“For example, like the earthworm if we cut it into half, the back part will regenerate itself, but we are not earthworms but that is the only part of the body which has that ability.

“This is also possible if the liver is healthy. Meaning healthy liver can regenerate itself very well, unhealthy one which will regenerate very slow,” Dr Chow told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

Healthy liver, he said, could regenerate in a period of four months.

“But if the liver is not well, it will regenerate very slowly, so the state of the liver is very important to determine its regeneration,” he said.

Chow, who did his PhD in liver regeneration, also disclosed that liver cancer like any other cases of cancer could be cured if it is detected in its early stage.

“Early stage means if it is detected at stage one or stage two there is a chance to be cured. There is a 50 per cent chance that you can live for more than five years. So if you go for surgery you can be potentially cured and there is a chance that the tumour may not come back.

As for stage three and stage four, it is just to prolong the life of the patients, there is no cure, said Chow.

For stage three liver cancer patients, Dr Chow said the survival chances would depend very much on how the patients were treated.

“They can live up to three years and for stage four; the patients can last for eight months. But normally I tell the patients that this is statistics because we can never predict the survival rate of new patients; otherwise they will be very demoralised.

“The truth is that I don’t know but I can only give advice that it is based on the data that we will have to conduct on the patients,” he said.

“Most of these patients also have hepatitis B. And there may be a genetic components involved.

“It is very much related to fatty liver which does not necessarily happen to fatty people. It can also happen to a regular and normal person.

“So it is based on lifestyle and related to carbohydrate metabolism,” he said, but quick to stress that fatty liver could be reversed through regular exercise.

“But it can be also be related to ethnicity of the person. Research in the US showed that African-American have not much problem with it even though they may be fat. But the Hispanic will have higher chance of having fatty liver,” said Chow.

He also advised the people to go for regular checkup.

“If you are a hepatitis carrier the risk of getting liver cancer is 100 times more than the non-carrier. So if you are a carrier, you have to go for ultra sound test for every six months and also to undergo blood test for cancer marker,” he stressed.

Stephan Cho


November 07, 2013



Most Elderly ESRD Cases in Singapore Due to Diabetes

ATLANTA—Diabetic nephropathy is the predominant cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) among elderly patients in Singapore, according to study findings presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week 2013 meeting.

Alvin Kok Heong Ng, MD, of the Changi General Hospital in Singapore, conducted a retrospective, longitudinal analysis of patients aged 70 years and older who received care at the hospital. Diabetic nephropathy was the cause of ESRD in 62.8% of patients. Initiation of dialysis involved temporary vascular catheters in 41.9% of patients; 30.2% required continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).

None of the patients had a functioning dialysis access during initiation; 79.1% were placed on hemodialysis and 20.9% were placed on peritoneal dialysis.

Three patients (11%) died out of 27 patients with at least a one-year follow-up, but death rates were not calculated because of the small number of patients.

“Diabetes remains a predominant etiology of [ESRD] in elderly population with a large proportion requiring temporary vascular access and CRRT,” Dr. Ng concluded. “We hope to improve the access to dialysis treatment, timely initiation, and care in our elderly population with the above findings.”

Friday, Nov 29, 2013
YourHealth, AsiaOne

SINGAPORE – In the first 10 months of this year, another 378 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were reported among Singapore residents.

In a statement released today, the Ministry of Health said that by extrapolation, it can be expected that the total number of notified HIV cases in 2013 will be similar to that of the 469 cases reported in 2012.

Of the 198 Singapore residents detected with HIV infection in the first six months of 2013, 95 per cent are males. Sexual transmission remained the main mode of HIV transmission as 97 per cent of the 198 cases acquired the infection through the sexual route.

Heterosexual transmission accounted for 43 per cent of these cases while 44 per cent were from homosexual transmission. Ten per cent were from bisexual transmission.

Almost half of the new cases reported in the first half of 2013 were aged 30 to 49 years.

Two in five newly reported cases already had late-stage HIV infection when they were diagnosed. This was lower than the proportion of 50 per cent in previous years.

Slightly over 40 per cent of the newly reported cases from January to June 2013 had their HIV detected when HIV testing was performed in the course of medical care provision. Another 30 per cent were detected during routine programmatic HIV screening while 20 per cent were detected as a result of voluntary HIV screening.

The rest were detected through other types of screening.

When differentiated by sexual transmission, a higher proportion of homosexuals (33 per cent) had their HIV infection detected via voluntary screening compared to heterosexuals (8 per cent).

Public advisory

MOH said that the most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to remain faithful to one’s spouse/partner and to avoid casual sex, and sex with sex workers.

“Persons engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual or commercial sex, are strongly advised to use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV infection. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter,” the statement said.

MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) urged individuals at risk of HIV infection to go for regular HIV testing as regular HIV testing can help an infected person to be diagnosed at an earlier stage of infection.

With early diagnosis, a HIV positive person can access care and treatment earlier, and also receive counseling on how to protect their partners from infection.

HPB said it has been working with partner organisations to conduct programmes and campaigns targeted at high-risk individuals to urge them to go for early and regular HIV testing.

HPB added that its partners conduct various educational outreach programmes on HIV prevention and management using a lifestyle approach. These programmes are designed to reach out to at-risk individuals through social settings to encourage them to take personal proactive measures and have regular HIV testing.

This is so as to allow for early detection and treatment, delay the onset of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and ensure an active and productive life, HPB said.



New public hospital in northern Singapore after 2020

By Sara Grosse
POSTED: 27 Oct 2013 14:29

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the next public hospital to be built after 2020 will be in northern Singapore, but added that the exact location has yet to be decided.

SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Sunday said the next public hospital to be built after 2020 will be in northern Singapore.

He added the exact location has yet to be decided and demographic needs will be factored into the decision.

Mr Gan said the Health Ministry is studying sites in several areas, and one of them is Woodlands.

Mr Gan was speaking on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for Sengkang General and Community Hospitals, which are slated to be ready by 2018.

The hospitals are part of the Health Ministry’s Healthcare Master Plan, which aims to add 4,100 hospital beds in Singapore by 2020.

In addition to the existing acute hospitals, the government plans to build four new acute hospitals between 2020 and 2030.

The Health Ministry is studying the exact location with land agencies, taking into account land use plans, with Woodlands being a possible site.

Mr Gan said: “It will also take into account the demographic pattern, and beyond 2020 is still some time to go, so we will decide on the specific location nearer to the time so as to take into account changes in demographics over the next few years.

“We also need to look at the pattern of diseases and what would be more relevant, more important and therefore, it is important for us to remain flexible.”

Mr Gan added that it is also important for hospitals to be flexible to meet future health care needs. The new integrated 1,400-bed hospital hopes to achieve this with its “swing beds.”

Professor Christopher Cheng, Pro-tem CEO of Sengkang Health, said: “The hospital has planned to have 800 acute hospital beds just like any general hospital, and 400 community hospital beds for rehabilitation and transitional care.

“But we also have 200 additional beds that are planned and designed that can be used either way. So if the hospital requires more acute beds, we can have 1,000 — that means 800 plus 200. Or if the hospital requires more community hospital step-down beds, then we can have 400 plus 200.”

If need be, Prof Cheng said the hospital can temporarily accommodate up to 1,600 beds in times of crises, such as an outbreak.

There will also be an open hub in the hospital called the Community Heart, which will host wellness-related activities such as health screenings and exhibitions.

With Sengkang being a fairly new town, its demographics comprise young families and their children. The new hospital is currently considering working with partners such as GPs and polyclinics to provide community-based pediatrics.

Sengkang General and Community Hospitals will be opened in phases, starting with the acute hospital, and followed by the community hospital.

The hospitals will be one of Singapore’s largest regional hospitals, catering to residents in Sengkang, Punggol, Hougang and Pasir Ris.

– CNA/fa/ac

URL: . html

Straits Times
04 Sep 2013
Elena Chong

A RETIRED gynaecologist was charged in court yesterday with underage sex and committing indecent acts on a 14-year-old.

Ong Theng Kiat, 63, faces a total of 13 charges under the Penal Code and Children and Young Persons Act.

He is alleged to have committed the first indecent act and sexual abuse of the girl in his car parked at Bukit Brown Cemetery in Lorong Halwa on Sept 6, 2011.

A few hours later, he drove her to Balestier Hotel where he allegedly committed two consensual sexual offences with the minor and one indecent act.

In the same month, Ong allegedly committed five more sexual offences and indecent acts with the girl in his car at Bukit Brown Cemetery. The last three offences committed early last year also took place in his car there.

Ong indicated through his lawyer Subhas Anandan that he would like to plead guilty.

The Straits Times understands that he retired early this year. He had more than 30 years of experience in the profession and ran his practice at Gleneagles Medical Centre and Tanjong Katong Road.

Mr Anandan told District Judge Kessler Soh that Ong was anxious to dispose of the case. He tendered a psychiatric report and said his client suffers from a condition which has a “causal link” to the offences.

Ong’s bail has been extended until next Tuesday when the case will be mentioned. He was told not to approach the victim.

The maximum penalty for sexual penetration of a minor is 10 years’ jail and a fine.

If convicted of an indecent act, he could be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to five years on each charge.

An Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority record shows that Ong owns a company called Alpha Oil Trading.

Meanwhile, in the same court, a sales and marketing executive was charged with three counts of sexual penetration of the same minor and one of committing an obscene act on a young person.

S. Ravi Chander, 49, allegedly committed two sexual offences with the girl’s consent in a van in Nepal Park in North Buona Vista in June last year. The next month, he is said to have rubbed her private parts and had sex with her in the vehicle at the multi-storey carpark of Block 395, Bukit Batok West Avenue 5.

His case was adjourned to Sept 24.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

These are new hospitals that will be built or become operational in 2010 and beyond:


(1) Khoo Teck Puat  Hospital 
KTPH is located at 90 Yishun Central.



(2) Ng Teng Fong Hospital
Originally Jurong General Hospital, but renamed after the anchor donor to the hospital building.  NTFH will be ready in 2014 and serve Jurong and western Singapore.


(3) Farrer Park Hospital
A completely new private hospital complete with an integrated hotel and spa.  Located in the Serangoon Road area opposite Mustafa.

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Bangladesh’s figurehead president has died at a hospital in Singapore. He was 84. The office of President Zillur Rahman says he died late Wednesday afternoon Bangladesh time. He was flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital on March 10 for treatment of respiratory problems. Rahman’s death does not affect the government as Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, with the prime minister holding the executive powers. The president’s office says parliamentary speaker Abdul Hamid will act as the president until the legislature elects a new one. Rahman was a top leader of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party before Parliament elected him president in 2009. In offering her condolences, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described Rahman as a patriotic leader.

Published March 20, 2013

Associated Press

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012

SINGAPORE – Thee doctors have been charged for practising without valid certificates from the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).

The Straits Times reported that the three had written to SMC to request for practising certificates and had falsely declared that they had not been involved in clinical practice before.

Gladys Wong Mei Ling, 47, was found to have illegally practised at Healthpoint Family Clinic and Surgery at Tanglin Halt Road from Jan 3 to 31.

Roy Chio Han Sin, 39, allegedly illegally practised at Dr Chio Aesthetic and Laser Centre and at Famicare Bedok Clinic in Bedok South Avenue 3 from Nov 1, 2011 to Feb 17, 2012.

Ng Hor Liang allegedly practised at at Bukit Batok West Clinic from Jan 1 to Feb 10.

If found guilty, each person can be fined up to $100,000 and jailed for 12 months.

The three are also facing charges for their false declarations, for which they can be each fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to two years.

A DOCTOR alleged to have damaged a US Merchant Marine’s hand during a liposuction treatment will face a disciplinary hearing after intervention by the Health Minister.

Rescue swimmer Michael Balensiefer, 36, was told he should not return to his job with the US Navy after damage to his hand and lower arm, which he claims was caused by Dr Kevin Teh at the Singapore Lipo, Body and Face Centre in 2009.

He complained about Dr Teh, a general practitioner who specialises in aesthetic treatments, to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), whose complaints committee said it found no evidence of professional misconduct.

But it told him it would issue a letter of warning to the doctor.

Mr Balensiefer then appealed to the minister in December 2010. In May 2011, he was told that then Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan had directed the SMC to hold a disciplinary hearing on the case.

The American is also suing Dr Kevin Teh in the High Court.

He was in Singapore in March 2009 for knee treatment and while recuperating, he inquired about having liposuction on his body at the Singapore Lipo, Body and Face Centre in Novena.

He paid $1,926 for the treatment and told Dr Kevin Teh he was allergic to amoxicillin – a common antibiotic.

Mr Balensiefer – described by another doctor who treated him as “good looking, like (Hulk actor) Eric Bana” – claims Dr Teh negligently gave him the drug, then inappropriately tried to alleviate the allergy symptoms with another drug that caused the problem with his hand, despite the availability of safer alternatives.

He also claims Dr Teh failed to provide sufficient and timely post-operative care to his swollen and blistered right hand, and failed to give full disclosure of the drugs given.

This hampered treatment of his hand by doctors at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Another of his claims states the doctor violated the prescribed seven-day cooling period mandated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for liposuction treatment.

However, Dr Teh told The Straits Times that this rule does not apply to foreigners.

According to papers filed in the High Court, Dr Teh’s two attempts to insert a needle into the back of Mr Balensiefer’s right hand caused “moderate” pain but were “very bloody” with a “significant amount of blood both on his hand and on the floor”.

When the doctor injected the contents of the syringe, the patient called out “hot, hot, very hot”. Dr Teh stopped the injection and proceeded with the liposuction.

When the patient woke up six hours later he said he felt “extreme tightness in his right hand” which “looked very swollen”.

The clinic staff told him everything had gone well and made an appointment for him to see the doctor the following day.

His hand was still swollen with two blisters at the injection sites. Dr Teh applied some gauze dressing and said it would get better.

But two days later, the swelling had extended almost up to his elbow. A week after the treatment, the pain became severe and his hand darkened.

He went to the emergency department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where two vascular surgeons warned that his thumb might have to be amputated.

Dr Chia Kok Hoong, then head of vascular surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, found 15cm of blocked artery in his right forearm.

He operated and removed most of the blockage and saved his thumb from amputation but some damage remained.

Dr Chia told him to avoid cold exposure, which means he “may no longer return” to his swimming job.

He is also a chief radio electronics technician.

Straits Times
12 Feb 2013

Bladeless cataract surgery is made possible by using a Femtosecond laser – an exciting new technology originally FDA approved for use in refractive surgery. The FDA has now expanded the indications to include ‘cuts’ in the cornea, including vertical and lamellar cuts. The possibilities for use now include but are not limited to femtosecond keratoplasty, astigmatic keratoplasty, and Intacs for keratoconus.

Femtosecond laser differs from the traditional method of refractive surgery in a number of ways. This technology uses a near infrared light to create precise subsurface cuts. Traditionally in refractive surgery, ultraviolet light sources, such as the excimer laser, have been used for precise surface cuts on the cornea. These light sources were dependent on the tissue properties to absorb the light. Femtosecond laser, on the other hand, works independently of light tissue absorption so photodisruption of deeper tissues is possible and the patient’s anatomy, such as steepness, flatness or thickness of the cornea, will not interfere with the cuts. This leads to a more uniform treatment. In addition, femtosecond pulses are very short, subpicosecond duration, which allows lower energy levels and aids in precision. The lower energy also decreases collateral damage.

Traditional methods for cutting the LASIK flaps include the use of a microkeratome blade, an oscillating blade which creates a shear factor. In a patient with a weak epithelium, there is increased risk of a resulting epithelial defect. With the femtosecond laser creating the flap, there is no shear factor and the risk of an epithelial defect is less.

To reiterate, femtosecond laser allows extreme precision in surgery. In one study presented this year at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, femtosecond laser incisions achieved perfect diameter accuracy in 100% of cases, while only 10% of surgeons’ manual cuts were within 0.25 mm error.

With the FDA label extension, femtosecond laser technology is spreading, with its largest impact on the future of cataract surgery. This technology was a highlight at this year’s American Academy of Ophthalmology in San Francisco.

Find out more about Bladeless Cataract Surgery:


KK Hospital apologises for baby mix-up
04:45 AM Nov 20, 2012
by Tan Weizhen


SINGAPORE – In what is the first reported baby mix-up in a public hospital, two sets of parents went home on Sunday from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) with the wrong babies.

The mistake was discovered about an hour after one of the couples got home and noticed the identifying tag – which hospital staff tie around every newborn’s ankle – of the baby they brought back did not bear the mother’s name.

After blood tests were carried out to verify that the baby did not belong to the first couple, the second set of parents were notified of the mistake at around midnight on Sunday, after they had spent around 10 hours at home with the baby whom they thought was theirs.

While the babies have been returned to their rightful parents, the results of DNA tests to confirm the identity of the two boys will only be known by the end of this week.

Yesterday, KKH released a media statement at about 7.20pm on the mix-up. Calling it an “unfortunate incident”, the hospital said it “unreservedly apologises to the parents for this error and will take all steps to prevent any recurrence”.

At a press conference last night, KKH Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Kwek – who was present along with the Chairman of the hospital’s medical board, Mr Alex Sia, and Director of Nursing Tan Soh Chin – also apologised and pledged that there will be no repeat of such a mistake in the future. “This is a terrible incident … it is the first and will be the last time,” he said.

Adding that the hospital is reviewing all its processes, Mr Kwek said the hospital is providing the families with support, including counselling.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) was informed of the mix-up yesterday morning. The MOH said: “We are sorry for the anxiety and stress caused to the parents of the newborns due to the unfortunate incident. The MOH will work together with KKH to extend all necessary support to the two families. We will also be working with the hospital in their investigations and will review their processes to prevent any recurrence.”

The hospital did not reveal the identities of the families, who have asked for privacy.

Mr Kwek told reporters the two sets of parents were distraught after they learnt of the mix-up. “Both mothers were crying … and the fathers were upset. But they met each other and … were very cordial,” he said. “They were relieved that the ordeal was over but still want to wait for the final tests.”

While the hospital is investigating what happened, Mr Kwek said it was possible that the identifying tag on one of the babies had fallen off, and a wrong tag was put on subsequently. A tag – believed to be the one that came loose – was found yesterday in an empty cot.

Mr Kwek said every newborn at the hospital is tagged with two identifying tags bearing the mother’s name, one on the right ankle which is put on first at the delivery suite, and the second one – on the left ankle – when the baby is taken to the nursery.

When the babies are discharged from the hospital, the nurses are supposed to double-check the tags. However, Mr Kwek said that this might not happen as often as it should and the lapses will be investigated as part of the review.

“At the point of discharge, when the nurses are checking … sometimes if the baby is sleeping, the nurses are a bit reluctant and I think the parents are also reluctant (to have the tags checked) because, to check the ankle, they have to undo the blanket and unwrap the baby, and that unsettles the baby. We suspect that’s what happened – a failure to check,” Mr Kwek said.

Referring to the couple who discovered the mix-up as “Couple B” who brought home “Baby A”, Mr Kwek said Baby A was being breastfed when he was being discharged.

While it was clear that the tag on Baby A’s left ankle “came free”, what happened thereafter is the subject of investigation. “It is possible that the baby had a second tag put on wrongly,” Mr Kwek said.

Couple A are first-time parents, while it was the third child for Couple B. According to Mr Kwek, the other set of parents, Couple A, removed the tags on Baby B without checking them after the family reached home.

Couple A was informed of the mix-up only after a blood test was done to show that Baby A was not Couple B’s child, Mr Kwek said.

Couple A subsequently also underwent blood tests. Both tests showed that the babies’ blood were incompatible with the blood group of the couples that brought them home respectively.

Mr Kwek said that neither of the babies had “distinguishing characteristics”. He added that as newborns, they looked very similar.

On whether any hospital staff will be disciplined, Mr Kwek said the hospital will wait for the investigation to be concluded before taking any action.


SINGAPORE – Mr Lim, 42, and his brother have the shared burden of looking after a sister who has been struck by ovarian cancer, as well as a wheelchair-bound elderly mother.

Relying solely on Mr Lim’s income as a machine operator, the family barely gets by after forking out S$1,000 monthly to care for their sister, who stopped work to battle her illness at home. The amount includes medication, food and transport to the hospital for her radiotherapy sessions.

“Eventually, when her condition worsens, as she refuses to go for chemotherapy, the social workers tell me she may have to be put in a nursing home,” said Mr Lim, who declined to give his full name. “We cannot afford, or have the expertise, to take care of her at home anymore then.”

The cost and the “tough work” for caregivers in the case of those who may choose to die at home have put most patients off, although many would like to do so there, said doctors and industry players.

This is not desirable, as “modern hospitals are not hospitable to the dying”, said Mr Lee Poh Wah, Chief Executive Officer of the Lien Foundation, which launched the Respectance Fund in September to offer funding to financially needy patients who wish to die at home.

“They (hospitals) are designed to deliver technical tasks and functions that can drive the dying and their families into a state of deep isolation and disconnectedness,” he said, qualifying that dying at home is not suitable for all, such as those in extreme physical and psychological distress.

According to hospices and medical social workers, there are currently a few obstacles to a more holistic palliative care framework: Insufficient advanced palliative teams in hospitals, the high costs and an incomplete, fragmented funding framework, as well as lack of support for caregivers.

Hospices say that costs of dying at home can be from the hundreds to the thousands, depending on the condition and equipment needed, as well as any extras that patients can afford. Equipment costs can add up, rendering it more expensive than dying in a hospital.

According to the Lien Foundation, renting of basic equipment such as an oxygen concentrators and a hospital bed can range from S$270 to S$600 a month and any specialised equipment would cost far more. Then, there are consumables such as catheters, dressings and diapers, as well as occasional costs such as ambulance fees for hospital visits.

But the biggest cost could be the opportunity costs that caregivers incur, including giving up a job, said Dr R Akilesh, CEO of HCA Hospice Care.

Pointing out the “lack of a formalised effort to defray costs of dying at home”, the Lien Foundation’s Mr Lee felt that current funding schemes are “narrow in focus and very specific”, with each having its own assessment criteria and requiring a long lead time – not ideal for dying patients.

“We need policymakers to review the current support schemes, besides funding, so that those who wish to die at home are not impeded by the lack of knowledge or funds, or obstacles such as caregivers’ deficiencies, need for hospital beds and medical equipment,” he said.

Palliative teams in hospitals are also underdeveloped, said industry players. While there are some developed palliative teams in some institutions here, others are just starting out, said Ms Irene Chan, Executive Director of Assisi Hospice.

“My opinion is that patients and families are not very well informed of options and services available, and they fall through the cracks when doctors or nurses don’t refer them to the palliative teams – which can happen,” she said.


Cost and ‘tough work’ for caregivers put off patients who may choose to do this

by Tan Weizhen
04:45 AM Nov 05, 2012

PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 12, 2012  Business Times


PACIFIC Healthcare Holdings Ltd has announced that Benny Kwan has been disqualified from acting as a non-executive, non-independent director of the mainboard-listed company.


The company said in a notice to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) website last Saturday that it had discovered that Mr Kwan, 51, was convicted of a misappropriation offence under Indonesian laws and did not serve out the resultant jail sentence.


Mr Kwan, however, has, through his lawyers, denied being convicted of any offence under Indonesian laws, according to the announcement filed by Pacific Healthcare executive director and acting chief executive William Chong.


In the notice to SGX, the Pacific Healthcare board of directors shared that it had obtained a letter from the Central Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office and a legal memorandum from the Indonesian legal counsel. The letter stated that Mr Kwan had not served out the sentence in respect of the offence, which was a prison term of 18 months.

SINGAPORE: After a five-year battle, convictions by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) against prominent aesthetics doctor Georgia Lee have been officially dropped.

In a rather rare move, SMC on Monday agreed for Dr Lee’s lawyer, Kuah Boon Theng, to file in the Court of Appeal, an application which clears the doctor of all SMC convictions.

The 43-year-old was found guilty of professional misconduct following a disciplinary hearing last year.

She was said to have breached ethical codes by practising unproven treatments, which included carboxytherapy — using carbon dioxide to improve a patient’s looks — along with another popular aesthetics doctor, Low Chai Ling.

The two women were fined the maximum S$10,000 each, censured and asked to give their word that they won’t commit the offence again.

In May 2012, Dr Low appealed to the High Court against her convictions, while Dr Lee appealed against having to pay the cost of the hearing.

In September 2012, Dr Low won her appeal against the convictions, as there were no official standards for aesthetic medicine at the time of the unproven treatment.

Early this month, the SMC decided to set aside the guilty verdict against Dr Lee, in light of the judgement on Dr Low.

Speaking to the media after the case, Ms Kuah said all parties are happy that there is finally closure on this matter.

“She expresses her gratitude to her family, friends and also her patients for their support,” said Ms Kuah.

The lawyer added that the fine that Dr Lee had paid to the SMC will be donated to support the work of the Law Society’s Pro Bono Services Office.

– CNA/fa/ac

By Claire Huang | Posted: 22 October 2012 1258 hrs