A DOCTOR has been suspended for six months and fined $6,000 after an inquiry found him guilty of professional misconduct.
Dr Ng Kwei Teo, 38, pleaded guilty to 47 charges of failure to exercise due care with regard to the prescription of Subutex and benzodiazepines, a class of hypnotic drugs.
The general practitioner at KT Ng Clinic in Hougang had prescribed the drugs to 46 patients who took the pills over a period of between seven months and more than three years.
The long-term consumption of such hypnotics may lead to drug dependence.
The disciplinary committee (DC) of the Singapore Medical Council found that Dr Ng had continued to prescribe the drugs to these patients without referring them to a specialist for further assessment. This disregard of his professional duties was inappropriate and unprofessional, said the DC.
It was noted that the charges covering Subutex were mainly committed prior to the issuance of guidelines by the Ministry of Health in late 2005, in an effort to stem the illicit use of the drug.
Nonetheless, the DC took the view that even in the absence of guidelines, prescriptions ought to be made in accordance with the standards of the medical profession and good practice.
The DC also found a lack of proper documentation for Dr Ng’s patient records.
Record keeping was “exceptionally poor as there was little, if any, detail of the clinical conditions of the patients and the management plan”, it said.
Dr Ng will also be censured and must give a written undertaking to the medical council that he will not engage in similar conduct again.
The DC said that the substantial punishment was given in the light of the serious consequences for patients in the event of improper prescription of such drugs.
This is the sixth case of professional misconduct by medical practitioners this year.