My doctor botched my operation/surgery/treatment/Lasik. Can I sue my doctor?
A doctor who is guilty of medical negligence (whether in the process of diagnosis, giving advice or treatment) runs the risk of being sued by his patients. According to Singapore’s laws on medical negligence, a doctor is guilty of such negligence:
- If he did not act in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of experts skilled in that particular art; and
- The court is satisfied that the medical experts have considered all the comparative risks and benefits relating to the matter such that they have arrived at a logically defensible conclusion as to whether the practice in question was an acceptable one.
In other words, if the general medical practice in Singapore is to sterilise a needle before injection, and the doctor failed to do so, he will be guilty of medical negligence. Many hospitals also publish their own guidelines with regards to the rights and responsibilities of patients and doctors respectively. Click here for an example.
In addition, a doctor cannot refuse to answer an enquiry from the patient with regards to the treatment provided.
If an action is commenced against the particular doctor, evidence of the malpractice will have to be adduced. You may want to seek an opinion from another doctor to say that the treatment given was clearly negligent. Your lawyer may call upon a panel of experts consisting of medical professionals who will testify as to whether the doctor in question performed up to the generally acceptable standards.
If the action is successful, a patient may be awarded special damages for anything ranging from loss of future earnings, physical pain and suffering, physical damage, to medical expenses. In exceptional circumstances, additional exemplary damages may also be awarded to punish the doctor or to set a precedence and/or deter doctors from being negligent in the future. A lawyer would be useful in telling you the damages that can possibly be claimed, and thus whether you should commence a lawsuit. Your lawsuit will be heard in either the High Court or the State Courts, depending on the amount that you are claiming for.
In 2011, the Singapore High Court awarded damages to a man after his vision was ruined by a failed Lasik operation. The doctor had apparently prescribed Lasik for the patient, when the patient was unsuitable for treatment. In the end, the doctor was held to be negligent, as well as guilty of breaching his contract with the patient.
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