SINGAPORE: An orthopedic surgeon resorted to his conviction of professional misconduct by a disciplinary tribunal to certify a migrant worker fit to work the day after he had operated by a fractured collarbone.
Dr. Kevin Yip Man Hing did not give any sick leave to the 47-year-old construction worker, in addition to the two days the patient went to the hospital.
Instead, he certified that the Chinese national was fit for "light duty" after discharge, as well as in two subsequent visits to review his condition.
In his appeal on Thursday (January 31) before the trial of three judges, Dr. Yip argued through his lawyer, Mr. Navin Joseph Lobo, that the patient had agreed to return to work and it was appropriate to give him light functions such as Os benefits of being mobile rehabilitation enabled to start soon.
The incident was investigated by a disciplinary court after a complaint to the Medical Committee of Singapore (SMC) by the rights group of migrant workers from the Humanitarian Organization for the Economy of Migration (Home).
He handed a five-month suspension to Dr Yip, 57, last year after finding him guilty of professional misconduct. The court found that "it was unable to ensure that an adequate medical discharge was granted (the patient) taking into account their condition and the nature of their occupation."
The SMC also resorted to the sentence, arguing for a longer suspension of 18 months.
The worker was hurt on July 7, 2011, when he fell high on one floor. He suffered a fracture of the clavicle, rib fractures and a wound dog.
On the same day, Dr. Yip, who has a private practice at the Gleneagles Medical Center, underwent fractured clavicle surgery.
The operation extended until the first hours of July 8 and the patient was later downloaded that day.
After his discharge, Dr Yip certified it suitable for light tasks from July 9.
The worker saw Dr. Yip again on July 11 and July 18 for post-surgical reviews, and was equally certified to be appropriate for light duties.
The patient later sought medical attention at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
During the disciplinary investigation of Dr. Yip, several experts testified about the duration of the medical license that must be given.
The SMC expert said he would have given six weeks sick leave and that "a minimum of two weeks sick leave should have been delivered at the time of discharge with a subsequent reassessment."
The SMC lawyer, Ms. Chang Man Phing from WongPartnership said that the court was correct to conclude that although the medical literature indicated that early mobilization was beneficial, it did not mean that the patient should receive "zero post-operative leave and certification to return to light duty immediately ".
Ms Chang argued that the lack of remorse of Dr. Yip, including omitting the costal fractures in his medical report and launching spells on the practice of doctors in the TTSH, guaranteed a heavier sentence.
The court reserved the ruling and will make its decision at a later date.