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SMC tribunal fines plastic surgeon Martin Huang S$10,000

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Dr Martin Huang had not treated a patient "with the required courtesy, consideration, compassion and respect and did not take steps to protect her privacy and dignity in the operating room as expected of him at the material time", the tribunal said in a written decision published on Tuesday on the SMC's website.

A SINGAPORE Medical Council (SMC) disciplinary tribunal has censured and fined a local plastic surgeon S$10,000 for his breach of an ethical code and ethical guidelines.

Dr Martin Huang had not treated a patient "with the required courtesy, consideration, compassion and respect and did not take steps to protect her privacy and dignity in the operating room as expected of him at the material time", the tribunal said in a written decision published on Tuesday on the SMC's website.

"This breach is a serious offence which merits a sanction beyond the bare minimum set out in the sentencing precedents ... a clear message should be sent to the medical profession that treating a patient with courtesy, consideration, compassion and respect and offering the right of privacy and dignity is required of all medical practitioners," it wrote.

In addition to the censure and fine, the tribunal said Dr Huang must give a written undertaking to the SMC that he would abstain from the conduct complained of or any similar conduct, and ordered Dr Huang to pay 70 per cent of the costs and expenses of, and incidental to, the proceedings, including the SMC's lawyer fees.

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Dr Huang's patient had been referred to him in 2010, seeking treatment for a scar on her inner thigh. The scar had formed due to complications and associated treatment using steroid injections, after the doctor who referred her performed a procedure to remove a mole around January 2008.

When the patient went to see Dr Huang in November 2010, she was 17. Her mother signed a consent form that stated that photographs may be taken as part of the patient's confidential medical records.

A nurse then took seven pre-operative photos of the patient, who had had to remove all her clothes except a brassiere. She had "felt extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed", the tribunal noted.

The tribunal added that Dr Huang had failed to inform the patient that photos exposing her entire lower body would be taken and failed to explain to her why these were required. "Dr Huang did not show any concern of the deep emotional trauma and distress she was having."

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