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Wrong prescription from Singaporean doc leads to patient’s death

The charge was based on the patient being given a prescription of 10 tablets of methotrexate (MTX) without first arranging for him to undergo the required tests

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The State Courts charged Haridass Ramdass, a 75-year-old Singaporean doctor who operated a clinic in Chander Road in Little India at the time of the incident, with the death of a patient, Mr Savarimuthu Arul Xavier, 28. The death was allegedly caused by tablets Ramdass prescribed.

The charge was based on the patient being given a prescription of 10 tablets of methotrexate (MTX) without first arranging for him to undergo the required tests.

MTX is a chemotherapy agent and immune system suppressant. The dosage he prescribed was also not in line with established guidelines, according to the charge slapped on the doctor.

The case is apparently a first in which a doctor is charged with causing death by a rash act under Section 304A(a) of the Penal Code.

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How it happened

Mr Xavier, a foreign national, was treated by Haridass on Nov 24, 2014, at Tekka Clinic Surgery, where he was given an injection of dexamethasone, a steroid used to treat ailments such as allergic or breathing disorders and skin conditions.

In addition to MTX, Mr Xavier was also prescribed prednisolone – a medication for treating certain disorders and conditions including cancer – and chlorpheniramine, which is used to treat the symptoms of allergic conditions. He had to take one of each medication, twice a day. He died 16 days later.
The “rash act” of prescribing MTX is alleged to have caused Mr Xavier to develop neutropenia, when the body does not have enough neutrophils, an important white blood cell that fights infection. He likewise developed mucositis, a complication of some cancer therapies in which the lining of the digestive system becomes inflamed.The series of events led to Mr Xavier contracting “an invasive fungal infection” which resulted in his death, said the charge.

According to information found on the Internet, Haridass has been a general practitioner for 44 years and got his medical degree from India’s Karnataka University in 1971.

He is out on a S$10,000 bail and the case is scheduled to be raised in court in two weeks’ time.

A person convicted of causing death by a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide faces up to five years’ jail, a fine or both.-/TISG

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