The Singapore Medical Council announced on Tuesday, 14 November that gynaecologist Jen Shek Wei was fined S$10,000 and suspended from practicing medicine for eight months for removing a patient’s left ovary with neither her knowledge nor consent.
The Court of Three Judges dismissed Dr Jen’s appeal to suspend disciplinary action. The court found that Dr Jen, age 62, manifested a “lack of care” toward his patient. Dr Jen is also being made to shoulder the lawyer’s costs and other fees for the hearing, and will also be receiving censure from the Singapore Medical Council.
The removal of the woman’s ovary occurred during a surgery in August of 2010. As per court documents, the patient had signed only a blank consent form for this procedure. Later on, “open left oophorectomy” (removal of left ovary) was added to the form, after she had signed it. “Open left oophorectomy” was never explained to the patient, who was then 34, and who merely thought that a lump in her ovary had been excised. To her great surprise, she found out eight months after that her left ovary had been removed, at a pregnancy check-up with another doctor. The patient’s pregnancy later ended in a miscarriage.
Last year Dr Jen received a guilty verdict on two counts of professional misconduct at a disciplinary tribunal inquiry. These charges were levelled against him for removing the patient’s ovary without her permission, and for counselling the patient to have the mass in her ovary excised without a thorough examination beforehand.
Upon investigation, it was determined that the surgery was completely unnecessary. Dr Jen was also found to be uncaring toward the welfare of the patient, showing no remorse for having removed her ovary and fallopian tube unnecessarily. It was also discovered that Dr Jen kept unclear medical records.
The court further announced that the suspension given Dr Jen was relatively light, and that he might have even deserved a 16-month suspension.
Netizens heartily agreed with the court that the suspension given Dr. Jen was too light, and that he deserved to have his license suspended for a longer period, with some even suggesting that the physician deserved jail time, or that the doctor’s practice should be boycotted.
Many netizens, however, showed great pity for the woman whose ovary had been removed.