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06 Mar 2019
Ministry of Health
Negative View - 264
Need for patient's consent for medical treatment

I am critical of the Ministry of Health and in particular of the health minister for the confusion over the need to get the patient's patient for medical treatment.

This confusion arose from the decision of the Singapore Medical Council to impose a fine of $100,000 on a doctor who failed to get the patient's consent for a treatment.

Why do I blame the Ministry of Health?

Here are my reasons:

a) The Singapore Medical Council is a statutory board under the Ministry of Health. The members of the council are appointed by the ministry.

b) I expect that the Council would have specified the treatments that need the patient's consent and those that should be left to the judgment of the doctor. The patient is not medically trained and is usually not in a position to give an informed consent.

c) I have been asked to sign my consent for treatment in hospital. On some occasions, the concent is signed "blindly" without proper explanation. It is irresponsible of the Ministry to expect the patient to take over a responsibility that should lie with the medical profession.

d) There will always be a risk that a patient would receive a wrong treatment, in spite of the precautions that are taken. In such a case, I would expect the doctor or the hospital to compensate the patient for the damages. This risk could be covered by insurance. 

e)  If a doctor had been negligent and had not taken the steps that are expected from a professional, the doctor should have to account for the negligence. The extent of the negligence and malpractice should be determined by the medical profession. This responsibility should not be passed to the patient who has given consent to the treatment.

Why do I blame the minister?

I expect the minister to be familiar with the technicality of this issue and to provide the proper leadership for this issue to have been addressed in the first place. It is lamentable for this confusion to arise, and after the problem has arisen, for the ministry to review the situation now. It seemed to be closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. 

We should expect a higher standard of competence from our minister and the officials of the ministry.

Tan Kin Lian





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