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SMA in the News

Some articles in the media where SMA is mentioned:

2017

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February

January

 

2016

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February

January

 

2015

December
November
October

September
August
July

June
May
April
March

February
January
 

2014

December
November

October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

 

2013

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March

February
January

 

2012

December
November
October

September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

 
October 2017

23 October 2017
Don't brush off your cough
The New Paper

An article published in the February 2016 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) was quoted in a New Paper report that highlights the causes of persistent coughs and the importance of seeking professional medical attention. The SMJ article, titled “Approaching chronic cough”, provides medical professionals with information on chronic cough in the local context, its diagnosis and recommendations. 

[link]

Original article: Approaching chronic cough

   

20 October 2017
The Big Read: Specialists or GPs? Training review to get mix right is just what the doctor ordered​
TODAYonline

Two articles published in SMA News were mentioned in a TODAYonline article on the healthcare industry’s recent discussion on specialists versus generalists. The first article, published in the July 2015 issue, was an interview offering a balanced view of several doctors on the new residency programme’s goals and processes. The other article, cited by MP Dr Tan Wu Meng, was published in the July 2013 issue and features a recount of a junior doctor being “demoted” when she took time to explore her residency options.

SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua was also quoted in the article, weighing in that in order to meet the future needs of our healthcare system, we need doctors who have a broader knowledge to provide comprehensive care.

[link]

Original articles: Viewpoints on Residency and A Cautionary Tale – The New Residency System 

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September 2017

8 September 2017
Singapore Urological Association updated their clinical guidelines for benign prostatic hyperplasia​
Channel 8 / Channel U TV News

Channel 8 and Channel U reported on the Singapore Urological Association’s updated clinical guidelines for male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS)/benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which were published in the recent August 2017 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal. It included information on how the updated guidelines provide the latest information about the disease to help doctors diagnose LUTS/BPH and how that could reduce medical expenses for patients.

Channel 8: [link]

Channel U: [link]

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August 2017

27-28 August 2017
Aspiring doctors encouraged to take up family medicine​
The Straits Times /  The New Paper 

SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua, and the Ministry of Health’s director of medical services, A/Prof Benjamin Ong, were quoted in a Straits Times article that reported on the first National Medical Students’ Convention held during the Singapore Medical Week. Addressing medical students from all three medical schools, Dr Wong highlighted the importance of collegiality and that doctors no longer practice in isolation. A/Prof Ong further espoused this, reminding the students that their career goals should seek to address society’s needs, that they should not aspire to be doctors for prestige, money or fame, and that effective care is nowadays a team-based effort. A/Prof Ong also urged students to consider pursing family medicine as a career to meet the demands of Singapore’s ageing population. 

The Straits Times: [link]

The New Paper: [link]

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July 2017

6 July 2017
Central medical database needs more work
The Straits Times

SMA was mentioned in a letter submitted to the Straits Times Forum regarding flaws in the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR). The letter, submitted by Peter Chen, suggests that the Ministry of Health (MOH) should get honest feedback about the NEHR and look at the issues surrounding the system, before they implement mandatory digitisation of health records in the private sector. One of the flaws highlighted was that of patient confidentiality, which SMA also raised in a letter to MOH. SMA is of the view that although the NEHR is in-principle the right way forward, more attention has to be paid to patient privacy and confidentiality issues.

[link]

SMA's letter to MOH: [link]

   

3 July 2017
MOH may make it mandatory for private sector to join national health database​
The Straits Times

SMA’s letter to the Ministry of Health (MOH) was quoted in a Straits Times article on the latter’s plans to make the digitisation of patient medical records mandatory under the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR). The letter, written by SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua and addressed to MOH Director Dr Philomena Tong, expressed concern over patient privacy and confidentiality. It states that even though patients are able to opt out of the NEHR, their records will still be updated and remain in the system, and this does not address fully the patients’ right to privacy and confidentiality. SMA also believes that while the NEHR is in-principle the right way forward, privacy and confidentiality rights need to be addressed beforehand to meet the needs of individual patients.

[link]

SMA's letter to MOH: [link]

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June 2017

27 June 2017
Singapore doctors on the horns of a dilemma​
TODAYonline

In a commentary published on TODAYonline, gastroenterologist Dr Desmond Wai highlighted the dilemma faced by doctors on the 1 July implementation of Singapore Medical Council’s (SMC) guidelines restricting fee-sharing between practitioners and third-party administrators (TPAs). The guidelines have caused TPAs to introduce tiered fee structures, where admin fees are derived based on the grading of surgical procedures (Tables 1 to 7). SMC has clarified that these tiered schemes might not comply with their guidelines. A joint statement issued by the Academy of Medicine, Singapore; the College of Family Physicians, Singapore, and SMA, also stated that a tier system is not appropriate as the TPA fees still seem to be based on medical fees paid by the patient.

[link]

   

24 June 2017
Doctors' fees: Administrators must change formula by July 1​
The Straits Times

A joint statement issued by the Academy of Medicine, Singapore; the College of Family Physicians, Singapore, and SMA was quoted in a Straits Times article regarding the 1 July implementation of new guidelines surrounding private practitioners’ engagement of third-party administrators (TPAs). The joint statement addresses the issue with TPA’s newly proposed fee structures, primarily the tiered fee schedule, and prompts doctors to ask TPAs to justify the administrative fees charged. Despite the removal of percentages used as a basis to calculate administrative fees, these tiered fee structures might still have no relation to the actual work done by TPAs, but instead based on the patient’s medical bill.

 

[link]

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May 2017

8 May 2017
Users risk stroke, psychosis, even death
The Straits Times

A reference to SMA News was made in a Straits Times report on the topic of new psychoactive substances (NPS). The report warns of the dangers of NPS use, highlighting the risk of strokes, organ failures, mental problems and even death in users. Dr Lambert Low, who was quoted, had co-authored an article that was published in the January 2016 issue of SMA News. Titled “New Psychoactive Substances: High Index of Suspicion Needed in Clinical Services”, the article provides medical practitioners with information on NPS and how to identify possible NPS usage in patients.

[link]
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April 2017

25 April 2017
SMA: Profit guarantees prohibited under medical ethics guidelines
The Business Times

SMA has been quoted in a Business Times article on how the ethical guidelines published by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) prohibit profit guarantees. SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua was quoted saying that “profit guarantees are frowned upon in healthcare services”, and that the Association hopes that all medical professionals involved in buying/selling medical practices will adhere to the ethical guidelines. 

[link]  
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24 April 2017
Need to reinstate fee guidelines
The Straits Times

The Straits Times has published a forum letter written by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi on the need for medical fee guidelines to be reinstated.  As a response to two previous articles, Two quick fixes to rein in healthcare costs (13 Apr 2017) and Quick fixes don't solve underlying problems in healthcare costs (18 Apr 2017), his letter highlighted that the reinstatement of fee guidelines is a fundamental solution to rising healthcare costs, as they will determine fair pricing through professional and dispassionate cost estimation. He believes that this will then correct subsequent imbalances brought about by insurance policies and riders. 

  [link]

13 April 2017
Two quick fixes to rein in healthcare costs​
The Straits Times

An Opinion article in The Straits Times addresses rising healthcare costs and proposes that the remedies should include the banning of insurance riders and publishing of fee guidelines on private doctors’ charges. The article quoted a report by the Health Insurance Task Force (HITF), which compared the costs of several common procedures performed in public and private hospitals. The HITF comprises representatives from MOH, MAS and SMA. The article also highlighted that if medical fee guidelines are to be set at the request of a governing body (such as MOH), they would not contravene the Competition Act like how SMA’s fee guidelines were withdrawn in 2007 as they were deemed anti-competition by the Competition Commission of Singapore.

[link]
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March 2017

29 March 2017
Doctors seek clearer rules on MCs for foreign workers​
TODAYonline

Two articles published in the February 2017 issue of SMA News have been quoted in a report by TODAYonline. The report highlights how doctors are seeking clearer rules on the issuance of medical certificates to foreign workers. The articles, "Reply to 'The Dilemma of Medical Leave'" and "Practical Advice for Doctors Treating Foreign Workers", talk about the roots of this problem and how the healthcare system/policies can be modified, as well as give doctors tips on the dos and don'ts to observe in daily practice.  

[link]

Original articles: Reply to "The Dilemma of Medical Leave" and Practical Advice for Doctors Treating Foreign Workers

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January 2017

10 January 2017
Some youth are taking too much paracetamol by accident: Study
The Straits Times

The Straits Times reported statistics on the accidental overuse of paracetamol by youths in Singapore, causing serious side effects and trips to the A&E. Reference was made to a study conducted by the National University of Singapore that studied the medical records of 177 patients aged 18 to 75, who were hospitalised for paracetamol overdose between January 2011 and December 2013. This study, titled “Characterisation and outcomes of adult patients with paracetamol overdose presenting to a tertiary hospital in Singapore”, was published online ahead of print by the Singapore Medical Journal in October 2016.

[link]

Original article: Characterisation and outcomes of adult patients with paracetamol overdose presenting to a tertiary hospital in Singapore

6 January 2017
To eat or not to eat: 6 types of food allergies
The Straits Times

Following a recommendation by the US health authorities to feed infants food with peanuts to reduce their risk of developing an allergy to peanuts, the Straits Times has published an article on six types of food allergies. The article quoted a study, titled “Food allergy in Singapore: opening a new chapter”, which was published in 2014 in the Singapore Medical Journal. Some of the study's findings include shellfish being the most common food allergen in Singapore and that egg allergies are most common among Singaporean children below the age of three.

[link]

Original article: Food allergy in Singapore: opening a new chapter

3 January 2017
Cases of fatty liver disease rising in Singapore: Study
The Straits Times

The Straits Times has reported on the rising number of patients suffering from non-fatty liver disease (NAFLD) here, citing a study that was published ahead of print by the Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ). The study, titled “Interval increase in the prevalence of symptomatic cholelithiasis-associated non-alcoholic fatty liver disease over a ten-year period in an Asian population”, compared patients who underwent surgery to removal their gall bladders in 2001 to 2004 and 2011 to 2014 and found that there was a significant increase in the progression of NAFLD here. Prof Pierce Chow, the lead doctor in this study, also said that the study suggests that the rate of NAFLD here could be higher than the Asian average.

 

[link]

Original article: Interval increase in the prevalence of symptomatic cholelithiasis-associated non-alcoholic fatty liver disease over a ten-year period in an Asian population

3 January 2017
Study: Many in the dark about newer birth control
The Straits Times

The Straits Times reported that many women in Singapore are not aware of the various advanced methods of birth control. Results of a local study on this issue were published in the November issue of the Singapore Medical Journal, titled “Knowledge and factors determining choice of contraception among Singaporean women”. The study found that fewer than half of 259 women quizzed were aware of five out of nine methods of contraception and that the least-known method is hormonal IUD. Dr Christopher Chong, and obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital Singapore, was quoted, highlighting the importance for all women to know what contraception methods are available.

[link]

Original article: Knowledge and factors determining choice of contraception among Singaporean women

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December 2016

29 December 2016
Competition Commission of Singapore does not support fee guidelines as they breach Competition Act
Lianhe Zaobao

Lianhe Zaobao has published a report on medical fee guidelines. Back in 2007, SMA’s Guideline on Fees were withdrawn after the Competition Act came into force, as the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) indicated that the availability of such guidelines would breach this Act. The Health Insurance Task Force recently issued a list of recommendations aimed at reigning in health insurance costs. One of the recommendations include reintroducing medical fee benchmarks or guidelines. The CCS responded to this, reiterating that the 2007 decision still stands.

The report quotes SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua, who explained that price transparency is an important component of reassuring patients of their choice of doctors. He also added that due to the severity and complexity of each medical condition, a doctor’s experience and professional skills are also important factors. 

[link]
   

13-14 December 2016
Doctors barred from paying percentage of fees to 3rd-party agents
TODAYonline, Channel NewsAsia, Channel 8 and CNA Singapore Tonight

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) has issued an advisory to inform the medical profession that come 1 July 2017, doctors will be barred from paying managed care companies and third-party agents fees that are calculated as a percentage of fees collected from their patients. The recently revised edition of SMC’s Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines disallows this practice, and doctors will be in breach of these guidelines if they continue paying fees calculated in such a manner. SMA welcomes this move by the SMC, citing better transparency in fee structures. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, council member and former president of the SMA, stressed that following SMC’s advisory, the “patients’ share of the healthcare dollar will go up”, translating to greater value for each patient’s healthcare fees.

TODAYOnline: [link]

Channel NewsAsia: [link]

Channel 8: [link]

CNA Singapore Tonight: [link]

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November 2016

17 November 2016
The low-down on rising medical costs
TODAYonline

TODAYonline carries a commentary contributed by Dr Desmond Wai, a gastroenterologist in private practice. He shared his view on how greater awareness of medical conditions and treatments, prevalence of private insurance plans, and costly operating costs all contribute to increased medical costs. He gave suggestions on ways to control costs, such as cost comparison by insurers, encouraging healthy living through incentives, as well as the reintroduction of SMA’s Fee Guidelines.

[link]
   

4 November 2016
Medicine, technology to the fore at Singapore Medical Week next year ​
TODAYonline and Lianhe Zaobao

Following the official launch of the Singapore Medical Week and FutureMed 2017 slated to be held in August 2017, TODAYonline carries a report with relevant information. The conference and expo seeks to bring together medicine and technological advances, for the improvement of medical care. However, the event will not just be targeted toward doctors and healthcare professionals. SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua commented that the event will also feature talks for the public, in a bid to improve medical literacy and encourage patients to take more ownership of their healthcare.

TODAYonline: [link]

Lianhe Zaobao: [link]

 

2 November 2016
Employers say greater transparency needed in managed care ​
The Business Times 

The Business Times reports that employers are mostly supportive of a move to improve transparency on managed care fee practices. Doctors who join managed care schemes are charged a fee calculated as a percentage of their patient's medical bill; it is a practice which may compromise patient care, says SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua. SMA has been pressing for better regulation on this sector.

[link]
 

2 November 2016
Doctors in a fix over impending rules banning percentage fees​
The Business Times 

Private-sector doctors tied to contracts with managed care companies/third party administrators (TPAs) here are in a dilemma as their contract terms might breach the revised Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines (ECEG) of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).  SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua commented that the Association might write in to the individual TPAs so that all involved can work on resolving the matter together. 

[link]
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October 2016

13 October 2016
The Health Insurance Task Force
The Business Times and The Straits Times

In light of the rising claim rates of Integrated Shield Plans for medical insurance policyholders, the Health Insurance Task Force has issued recommendations aimed at keeping premium costs down. The recommendations include having a set of guidelines for medical fees to allow better transparency, as well as clarifying the process through which insurers can raise treatment-related issues to the relevant authorities. The Health Insurance Task Force is made up of 11 members, which includes two representatives from the Singapore Medical Association.

The Business Times: [link]

The Straits Times: [link]

   

10 October 2016
Iras recovers S$1.8b from tax cheats in past five years
TODAYonline

In an article reporting on how the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) has been taking to task business owners who evade tax, SMA has been mentioned as one of Iras' partners in efforts to educate taxpayers on this matter. SMA holds seminars on tax obligations in medical practice, targeted at clinic owners and representatives who are responsible for the preparation and filing of the Income Tax Return and other tax matters.

[link]
   

6 October 2016
Private surgeons' fees to be publicised 
TODAYonline

SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua has been quoted in an article by TODAYonline, weighing in on MOH’s move to publish online the total operation fees  for various surgical procedures performed in private hospitals. Dr Wong commented that the SMA welcomes this move, as better transparency allows patients to manage fee expectations for better peace of mind. He also added that while this published data is helpful for common conditions where patients have the  time to choose, it may not be helpful in emergencies, and that it is still too early to tell if this move will impact healthcare costs.

TODAYonline: [link]

The Straits Times: [link]

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September 2016

26 September 2016
Patients deserve greater disclosure by healthcare players
TODAYonline

SMA has been quoted in a commentary by TODAY correspondent Neo Chai Chin on the issue of managed care. Mentioning the results of the managed care survey conducted by SMA and the College of Family Physicians Singapore, and the August issue of SMA News which has a focus on managed care companies and third party administrators, the commentary discusses the managed care landscape. SMA President, Dr Wong Tien Hua, is quoted from his column on how the presence of TPAs renders transactions opaque and obscuring the trust needed in doctor-patient relationships. SMA also wants managed care companies and third party administrators to be regulated as healthcare entities.

[link]
   

23 September 2016
Doctors' group renews call for medical claims oversight
TODAYonline

In an article published by TODAYonline, SMA President, Dr Wong Tien Hua, weighs in on how managed care companies and third-party administrators should be regulated for the good of patients and doctors alike, through the consideration of new laws or the amendment of current laws. In the same light, Dr Wong also mentions that SMA is in contact with the Life Insurance Association, the Consumers Association of Singapore, the Ministry of Health and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to see how healthcare costs can be controlled. 

[link]
   

14-15 September 2016
Revision of the SMC's Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines
Channel NewsAsia, The Business Times and TODAY

Following the release of the Singapore Medical Council’s (SMC) revised Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines (ECEG) on 14 September 2016, newspaper reports have highlighted the additions made to the guidelines, which were last revised in 2002. Bearing in mind the advancements in medical science and technology, as well as the various challenges faced by medical professionals in recent years, the revised guidelines set out will suit the working environment of today. SMA President, Dr Wong Tien Hua, says that the SMA welcomes the revision and adds that it is important to have the aims of SMA and SMC aligned to the needs of the society at large and for the good of all patients.

Channel NewsAsia: [link]

The Business Times: [link]

TODAY: [link]

TODAY: [link]

 

   

9 September 2016
Doctors in uproar over third party administrators' charges
The Business Times and Shin Min Daily

The Business Times has published an article on managed care, explaining how the managed care system works and how some doctors in the private sector are unhappy with the practices of managed care companies and third party administrators (TPAs). Cited in the article is the August issue of SMA News, which focuses primarily on this issue and contains various articles covering the good, bad, and ugly of managed care.

 

The Business Times: [link]

Shin Min Daily: [link]

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August 2016

30 August 2016
Do more to keep healthcare costs in check
The Straits Times
 

The Straits Times Forum recently published a letter written by Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock on keeping healthcare costs in check, indicating how a reintroduction of fee guidelines is necessary and long overdue. The SMA’s Guidelines of Fees were withdrawn in 2007 after the Competition Commission of Singapore indicated that the guidelines ran the risk of contravening the Competition Act. Despite the Ministry of Health’s efforts to improve price transparency, there is still great disparity in professional fees among surgeons in private practice.

[link]
 
28 August 2016
Too Little, Too Late
The New Paper
 

The New Paper reports that a recent local study has found that patients with high cholesterol are not being prescribed the right doses of statins to manage their condition. The study, titled “Statin-centric versus low-density lipoprotein-centric approach for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease prevention: a Singapore perspective”, was published in the July 2016 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal and highlights the differences in statin therapy in the Asian and Western contexts, and how clinicians can be more effective in managing cardiovascular risks. 

Original article: Statin-centric versus low-density lipoprotein-centric approach for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease prevention: a Singapore perspective
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July 2016

25 July 2016
Taking care of cancer patients 'more stressful than in West'
The Straits Times

The Straits Times reports that a two-year study documenting the physical, emotional and social well-being of Singaporean caregivers has shown that caregivers here are more burdened and stressed compared to those in Western countries. The study, part of the research paper “Quality of life of family caregivers of cancer patients in Singapore and globally”, was published ahead of print by the Singapore Medical Journal in April 2016. By highlighting the challenges caregivers face, researchers hope that the study will ultimately lead to better support for caregivers to help alleviate their burden. 

[link]

Original article: Quality of life of family caregivers of cancer patients in Singapore and globally

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June 2016

10 June 2016
Doctors cry foul over 'unfair' practice of third-party agents
TODAYonline

TODAY reported that the practices of third-party administrators may not be fair and ethical to both doctors and patients alike. These third-party administrators, also known as managed care companies, have been charging doctors administrative fees for patient referrals, which may range from 8 to 25 per cent of a doctor’s professional fees. The majority of affected doctors are specialists in private practice.

SMA President, Dr Wong Tien Hua, expressed concern on how this and other factors could have an effect on the patients’ best interests, and advised that patients and clients of these agents should be aware that such fees are being paid. Dr Wong also mentioned that SMA is seeking clarification with the Singapore Medical Council on this matter.

[link]

4 June 2016
Government to review 'Advance Medical Directive' policies
TV News

According to data from the Ministry of Health, more than 20,000 people in Singapore have signed the Advance Medical Directive (AMD), with more than 3,000 people signing it in the past year. Channel 8’s News Tonight featured a short interview with SMA council member A/Prof Chin Jing Jih. He shared that doctors can assist patients with terminal illnesses to have a better understanding of palliative care and treatment to make the right choices based on their own values, via Advance Care Planning. A/Prof Chin also mentioned that the law has been in force for 20 years and that the Government may consider a review and public consultation to simplify the AMD procedures.

[link]
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January 2016

11 January 2016
Mediation to play bigger role in medical lawsuits: CJ Menon
TODAYonline


Chief Justice (CJ) Sundaresh Menon, who was also the SMA Lecturer 2012, said that changes would be made to medical lawsuits in the future, for mediation to play a bigger role and judges to proactively direct proceedings with help from medical experts. SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua opined that the Association has been advocating for alternative dispute resolution through the courses and seminars organised over the years. In addition, Dr Wong mentioned that the problem of defensive medicine needs to be addressed before it spirals out of control, as is the situation in Western countries. He also called for SMC’s process of selection, training and appointment of medical assessors to be transparent and fair for all parties.
[link]
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December 2015

23 December 2015
Little India riot: TTSH doctors draw lessons from handling the incident
Channel NewsAsia

An article that described the emergency medical aspect of the 2013 Little India riot was published in the December 2015 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal. Authored by a group of doctors from Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s emergency department (ED), the paper provides a description of the casualties that arrived at the hospital and how the ED responded to the event and the subsequent lessons obtained from the incident. Research results presented the need to pay heed to the safety and security of hospital staff when they deal with such mass casualty events, as the article gave a glimpse into the injuries the hospital treated.
 

[link]

Original article: The Little India riot: experience of an emergency department in Singapore

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November 2015

28 November 2015
SMA offers programmes to help foreign doctors assimilate here
The Straits Times


Following the article published on 23 November 2015, titled "Number of foreign doctors rising in Singapore public hospitals and polyclinics", SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua opined that the Association agrees with the Ministry of Health that there is a need to assimilate the medical professionals from abroad into the local environment. Since the percentage of foreign-trained doctors in Singapore has grown from 36.45% in 2011 to 41.42% last year, SMA has recognised the need for foreign-trained doctors to understand the Singaporean culture and customs, as well as the local healthcare system. Hence, the Association started organising seminars for foreign-trained doctors in 2011.
 
[link]
2 November 2015
Patients gain from new focus on home care
The Straits Times


The Straits Times article discusses the continuity of care as patients transition from hospitals to their homes, as well as home visits by doctors in the US and Singapore. The author commented that while the situation of home visits in Singapore was not as bleak, the low frequency of these home visits could be attributed to the cost involved. Based on SMA's previous Guidelines on Fees, the recommended cost for home visits were eight times higher than clinic consultations. The Competition Commission of Singapore ruled against SMA’s Guidelines on Fees in 2010 because the guidelines breached Section 34 prohibition of the Competition Act and also interfered with free market competition. 
[link]
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October 2015

5 October 2015
Nursing home patients could be taking the wrong dosage or wrong medication
The Straits Times
 
The Straits Times reports that three in five residents in nursing homes could be taking the wrong dosage or medication. The report quoted a research paper titled “Pharmacist review and its impact on Singapore nursing homes”, which was featured in the September edition of the Singapore Medical Journal. The study collected data from a total of 480 residents in three nursing homes in two stages. The first stage was a one-time pharmacist review was conducted for each resident prior to weekly pharmacist visits, and the second stage was six months of weekly pharmacist reviews to ensure that every resident is reviewed once.
 
In the first stage, the top issues were the compliance or drug administration issue, and residents having inappropriate/suboptimal dosages. In the second stage, the most prevalent problem was that the resident was no longer taking medicine on profile, or needs a new prescription for medicine not on profile. Followed by, usage of medication without indication or unclear indication.
 

[link]

Original article: Pharmacist review and its impact on Singapore nursing homes

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August 2015

26 August 2015
The changing face of erectile dysfunction
TODAY
SMA’s annual national medical convention was held on 25 July and was led by Dr Ng Chee Kwan, a SMA council member and the chairperson of the organising committee. The focus of this year’s convention was on urology.
 
TODAY ran an article on erectile dysfunction where an increasing number of patients with the condition are under the age of 40. Dr Ng was quoted as saying that “Once a physical cause is excluded, most young ED patients benefit from the early use of medication usually taken on demand as a ‘confidence booster’”, as they suffer from performance anxiety, once “they get their confidence back and may subsequently find they no longer need [medication]”.
 
[link]
13 August 2015
Medical watchdog incurs net legal expenses of around S$800,000
TODAY
Singapore Medical Council (SMC) published in their 2014 Annual Report, for the first time, its bill incurred in the last financial year with the net expenses of nearly S$800,000. 
 
In 2013, SMA had requested that the SMC should make public its annual accounts including the costs of administration and engaging counsel. Following the publication of SMC’s financial accounts, SMA’s president Dr Wong Tien Hua was quoted as saying “This move reflects the principles of greater transparency and will help instil the public’s confidence in bodies like SMC.”
 

[link]

SMC 2014 Annual Report 

13 August 2015
Complaints against docs up, but few result in disciplinary inquiries
TODAY
Singapore Medical Council (SMC) reported in their 2014 Annual Report that the number of complaints lodged against doctors has increased sharply, with the rate of complaints last year hitting its highest in at least a decade.
 
However, SMA’s president Dr Wong Tien Hua was quoted as saying that it was to be expected that with better education and a more affluent population, patients are more aware of their rights. And with population growth, statistics also point to a heavier patient load across the board, from public medical facilities to privately-run clinics, which could contribute to the number of complaints lodged against doctors.
 

[link]

SMC 2014 Annual Report

4 August 2015
Dentures, eating utensils, and fish bones
The Straits Times

The Straits Times reports that ingestion of fish bones ranks as the top otolaryngology emergency referral at three major public hospitals. The report quoted a research paper titled “A prospective study of epidemiological risk factors for ingestion of fish bones in Singapore”, which was featured in the June edition of the Singapore Medical Journal. The study, conducted between 2009 and 2010, was based on a survey administered to 112 patients who presented to the emergency department with the complaint of fish bone ingestion. Wearing of dentures, the use of utensils to eat fish and the practice of deboning fish in one’s mouth were found to be associated with an increased risk of fish bone ingestion.

[link]

 

Original article: A prospective study of epidemiological risk factors for ingestion of fish bones in Singapore

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July 2015

23 July 2015
Talk on urology on 25 July

Lianhe Wanbao, Shin Min Daily News
The 46th SMA National Medical Convention will explore topics related to having good urological health, with a wide array of topics with enriching content at the public symposium’s three sessions. The public can select the session they wish to attend and gain medical knowledge from the speakers.

 
10 July 2015
Local cases of anorexia increasingly severe 
Shin Min Daily News
The Chinese daily quoted a research study titled “The clinical profile of patients with anorexia nervosa in Singapore: a follow-up descriptive study” that was published in the June 2015 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal. It was stated that there is a worrying trend of anorexia in Singapore, with patients weighing 36.83 kg on average. The study looked at 271 patients from 2003 to 2010. The study’s findings were that the presenting characteristics of the study cohort were similar to those of the Western population. However, the lower presenting weight and BMI in the cohort indicates that cases seen today are more severe than those seen eight years ago.
Original Article: The clinical profile of patients with anorexia nervosa in Singapore: a follow‑up descriptive study
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June 2015

18 June 2015
Patient autonomy in audits: MOH replies
The Straits Times

The Ministry of Health (MOH) responded to SMA’s forum letter titled “Patient autonomy key part of medical ethics" that was published on 4 June. MOH clarified that the purpose for patients to give consent to be informed of and participate in medical audits before they undergo aesthetic procedures was so that they are not taken aback when contacted. It was stated that patient’s consent for the medical audits will not affect the procedure to be performed. In addition, MOH also explained that patient’s autonomy is not compromised in the medical audits.

[link]

Original Article: Patient autonomy key part of medical ethics

5 June 2015
Orthopedists and anesthesiologists do not estimate surgery times accurately
Shin Min Daily News

The Chinese daily quoted a research study titled “Male orthopaedic surgeons and anaesthetists: equally good at estimating fluid volumes (and changing light bulbs) but equally poor at estimating procedure duration” that was published in the May 2015 issue of Singapore Medical Journal. It was stated that orthopaedists and anaesthesiologists often have differing opinions over the estimated duration of surgeries, which may lead to possible complications during procedures.

Original Article: Male orthopaedic surgeons and anaesthetists: equally
good at estimating fluid volumes (and changing light
bulbs) but equally poor at estimating procedure duration
4 June 2015
Patient autonomy key part of medical ethics
The Straits Times

Patients who undergo liposuction will now be required to consent to an interview by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the outcome of their aesthetic procedures as part of medical audits. SMA President Dr Wong Tien Hua stated in a forum letter that one of the fundamental tenets of medical ethics is patient autonomy, which included the patient’s right to give or withhold consent for treatment, privacy and confidentiality. He opined that patient autonomy should not be comprised except in the most serious circumstances and unless it was backed by the force of legislation. Dr Wong urged MOH to clarify the rationale behind this new requirement in its effort to regulate aesthetic procedures.

[link]
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May 2015

16 to 17 May 2015
SMA Annual Dinner 2015
AsiaOne, Channel NewsAsia, Lianhe Zaobao, The Straits Times


Various media platforms reported about the SMA Annual Dinner 2015, which was held on 16 May at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore. Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of the Republic of Singapore, was conferred the SMA Honorary Membership 2015 at the event.

In Dr Tony Tan’s speech, he emphasised the need to place more focus on primary and family care, as well as renew support for Geriatric Medicine in light of Singapore's increasingly older population. Dr Tan also highlighted the importance of having role models in the medical fraternity so the Association should create opportunities for mentoring at different levels of professional development. Dr Wong Tien Hua, President of the 56th SMA Council, also echoed Dr Tony Tan’s sentiments in his welcome address. Dr Wong opined that a strong doctor-patient relationship would ensure effective communication but it requires more time and effort from both parties.

Dr Tan also unveiled the association's new slogan “For Doctors, For Patients", which he said will refocus the medical profession's role in society.
 

AsiaOne: [link]

Channel NewsAsia: [link]

Lianhe Zaobao: [link]

The Straits Times: [link]

back to top >

April 2015

24 April 2015
Rising medical litigation costs may turn healthcare sickly
The Straits Times

In reference to SMA President A/Prof Chin Jing Jih’s President Forum in the March 2015 issue of SMA News, the author emphasised that Singapore needs to come up with a way to ensure the cost of medical litigation is reasonable without being unfair to either patient or doctor. Otherwise, doctors in Singapore will either avoid attending to risky cases or refuse to practise in high-risk specialties. Some may even practice in high-risk specialties in such a defensive way that it becomes detrimental to patients.
 

Original article: 
Professional Indemnity Insurance – Is the Time Right for Tort Reform?
17 April 2015
SMA chief: Docs need protection against excessive patient claims
The Straits Times

SMA President A/Prof Chin Jing Jih addressed the topic of professional indemnity insurance in his President’s Forum that was published in the March 2015 issue of SMA News, in light of changes to professional indemnity for doctors practising obstetrics in Singapore. A/Prof Chin called for changes in the law on medical liability to protect doctors against excessive patient claims, and to prevent defensive healthcare practices that are not good for patients and the society in general.

Original article: 
Professional Indemnity Insurance – Is the Time Right for Tort Reform?
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March 2015

20 March 2015
Mentor completes thesis for doctor who went missing for four years
Lianhe Wanbao

The Chinese editorial featured medical student Kouk Leong Jin, who went missing in Greece two years ago but was the main author of a research paper that was published in the August 2013 issue of Singapore Medical Journal. The paper, titled “A prospective study of risk factors for first trimester miscarriage in Asian women with threatened miscarriage”, comprised Leong Jin’s research work on the risk factors behind early miscarriages in Asian women.

 
10 March 2015
Thinking of the rental will keep you awake
The New Paper

The February 2015 Singapore Medical Journal article, titled “The prevalence of fatigue and associated health and safety risk factors among taxi drivers in Singapore”, was quoted in a series of newspaper excerpts as further discussions surfaced on local taxi drivers who have to face long hours and sedentary conditions. The reports, accompanied by a range of statistics, highlighted that fatigued driving is a workplace hazard that causes thousands of road traffic accidents and fatalities around the world each year”.

 
3 March 2015
Protection for obstetricians: Urgent solution needed
The Straits Times

In response to an earlier article, "Looming shortage of doctors to deliver babies", SMA 1st Vice President Dr Wong Tien Hua wrote that in the absence of a post-retirement protection plan for obstetricians, the higher cost of delivery and looming shortage of experienced obstetricians required a viable solution so that a potential national crisis can be averted. SMA stated that the gravity of the current situation facing obstetricians, if left unaddressed, could result in a large number of babies born “uncovered”, a future problem for society that should be prevented as Singapore is finally seeing a rise in the number of babies.
 

[link]

 

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February 2015

25 February 2015
One in three cabbies report ‘driver fatigue’
Channel NewsAsia and TODAY

Newspaper reports stated that local taxi drivers regularly complained of long hours and sedentary conditions. The articles also quoted a research paper, titled “The prevalence of fatigue and associated health and safety risk factors among taxi drivers in Singapore”, which was featured in the February edition of Singapore Medical Journal. The research paper stated findings from the first ever study that looks at risk factors of fatigue driving among local taxi drivers. It found that one in three taxi drivers experienced driver fatigue, especially those who work more than 10 hours per day.

Channel
NewsAsia:
[link]

Original Article:
The prevalence of fatigue and associated health and safety risk factors among taxi drivers in Singapore

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December 2014

10 December 2014
Why lawyers not on SMC disciplinary panels
The Straits Times

A local doctor clarified some misconceptions a member of the public had about the way Singapore Medical Council (SMC) conducts its disciplinary tribunals (“Worrying lack of legal expertise on SMC panels", 9 November 2014). He quoted a 2009 ST letter written by Dr Chong Yeh Woei, who said that lawyers are present at SMC disciplinary hearings to ensure that the principles of fairness and natural justice are not overlooked, and whatever is not necessarily illegal may not be medically ethical.

[link]
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November 2014

25 November 2014
Mount Elizabeth Hospital sets fixed surgery prices
AsiaOne

The article reported that Mount Elizabeth Hospital is the first private hospital in Singapore to offer fixed prices for 17 types of standard surgical procedures. In addition, it noted that there have been numerous discussions among patients, medical professionals and the public about healthcare costs. In the article, it was stated that SMA proposed creating fee guidelines for doctors in private practice in 2009 but it was rejected by the Competition Commission of Singapore.

[link]
1 November 2014
GPs not levying hefty fees for house calls
The Straits Times

The author wrote in response to an earlier letter stating that home visits by doctors carried hefty charges. He noted that house calls should not be used for the "rather urgent" medical attention required. In addition, he also stated the emergency and non-emergency house call rates before the SMA Guidelines on Fees were abolished in 2007.

[link]
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September 2014

3 September 2014
Man having heart attack on plane saved by passengers
Fox News

The article reported on a man who had suffered a heart attack in an airplane. Fortunately, he was saved by three passengers with the aid of resuscitation equipment and drugs. The news article cited a research paper that was published in the August 2011 edition of Singapore Medical Journal. It was stated that out of approximately two billion people travelling on commercial airlines annually, “about 1,000 passengers per year experience sudden cardiac death” on these flights.

[link]

Original Article:
Cardiac arrest in the skies
1 September 2014
MOH publishes total operation fees for 65 common procedures
Channel NewsAsia, 
Lianhe Zaobao and TV News

The Ministry of Health published data about operation fees at public hospitals on its website, to provide greater transparency and to help patients make more informed decisions. The article stated that SMA is looking into having Guidelines on Fees (GOF) again. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, a Council Member and past SMA President, opined that the association would need time to gather the information again since they have not drafted any fee guidelines since 2006. SMA emphasised the need to obtain the approval from authorities before it can republish the GOF.

[link]
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August 2014

30 August 2014
A third of youth here say plastic surgery OK
The Straits Times

The August edition of Singapore Medical Journal featured an article about local junior college and medical students’ attitudes towards cosmetic procedures. The results showed that about one in three youths in Singapore felt that it was normal to go for cosmetic procedures at their age, with 14 out of the 1,400 surveyed admitting that they had already undergone such treatment. These research findings were cited in the ST newspaper article.

[link]

Original Article:
Cosmetic procedures among youths: a survey of junior college and medical students in Singapore
30 August 2014
Too young to go under the knife
The Straits Times

A team of doctors from Singapore General Hospital published their research findings in the August edition of Singapore Medical Journal. Their work was cited in a newspaper article about stopping children and teenagers under 18 from going for cosmetic treatments. The commentary highlighted that research findings showed one in three junior college students and one in four medical students approved of their peers going for such treatment.

[link]

Original Article:
Cosmetic procedures among youths: a survey of junior college and medical students in Singapore

27 & 28 August 2014
Articles on 45th SMA National Medical Convention
Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News

The newspaper editorials reported that the SMA Convention – titled Active with Allergies – will take place on 30 August, at Sheraton Towers Singapore. The main convention topics include food allergies, skin allergies and allergic rhinitis.

 
19, 21 & 22 August 2014
Articles about Guidelines on Fees
The Straits Times

There have been ongoing discussions about the impact of fee guidelines on doctors. These articles noted that the Competition Commission of Singapore ruled against SMA’s Guidelines on Fees in 2010, because the guidelines breached Section 34 prohibition of the Competition Act and also interfered with free market competition. A few writers felt that the guidelines were relevant as they served as a reference for doctors. In the absence of fee guidelines, some medical practitioners may increase their fees in an attempt to test the limits of what the market can bear.

19 August: [link]

21 August: [link]

22 August: [link]

22 August: [link]

21 August 2014
Getting his mojo back
The Straits Times

A 2003 Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) article, titled “Erectile Dysfunction in Singapore: Prevalence and Its Associated Factors – A Population-Based Study”, was cited in this newspaper editorial. The SMJ article stated that “age is an important physiological factor strongly associated with ED,” along with other risk factors like Indian ethnicity, lower household income, physical inactivity, diabetes and heart diseases.
 

[link]
15 August 2014
Consider fee guidelines, medical oversight
The Straits Times

Dr Ong Siew Chey responded to an earlier forum letter, stating that he felt the Government should review the need for fee guidelines. He noted that the Competition Commission of Singapore had ruled against the fee guidelines set by the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) in 2010. However, Dr Ong opined that fee guidelines were useful to both doctors and patients, and were largely workable.

[link]
1 August 2014
Medical Council reforms a healthy move
The Straits Times


The Singapore Medical Council had said that it is in broad agreement with recommendations from its Review Committee, including improvements to the disciplinary hearing process. The author cited an article that was published in The Singapore Law Review, and shared that it quoted a number of doctors who called upon the Ministry of Health, Academy of Medicine and SMA to come together to “provide answers to the perplexing question of what the ethical limit is”.
 
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July 2014

28 July 2014
Guidelines on doctors’ fees could be reinstated
TODAYonline

Singapore Medical Council has recently expressed hopes that laws governing doctors’ fee guidelines will be amended to override competition regulations in Singapore. The newspaper article also noted that debate on fee guidelines were reignited in 2013, after the Court of Appeal ruling against Dr Susan Lim for overcharging.

SMA previously drafted the Guideline on Fees, which were in force from 1987 to 2007, so that members could use it as reference when setting their fees. However, these guidelines were withdrawn by SMA in 2007 after they were deemed anti-competitive. 

[link]
27 July 2014
Doc, could you speak slower, more simply?
The Straits Times


This newspaper editorial is a spin-off from SMA President A/Prof Chin Jing Jih’s article in the May 2014 issue of SMA News. The writer cited A/Prof Chin’s encounter with a patient, from which he learnt that some patients suffered from recall failure and were viewed as non-compliant because they were overloaded with medical information and jargons.
 
[link]
25 July 2014
More transparency, robustness in disciplinary regime of doctors
TODAYonline

The Singapore Medical Council has recently announced that they broadly agreed with the recommendations made by the Review Committee (For Disciplinary Processes), to further enhance the local disciplinary framework for doctors. SMA 1st Vice President Dr Wong Tien Hua said, "Many of the changes reflected the principles of greater transparency, natural justice, and a more efficient system to reduce the time required to clear individual complaint cases."

One of the issues that the Review Committee raised was whether the current adversarial process could shift from one that works upon charges levelled against a doctor to one with an inquisitorial framework instead. SMA welcomed this recommended shift in the disciplinary framework as the association felt that these changes would benefit the profession. Dr Wong further commented that an inquisitorial system offers the advantage of seeking the truth for all parties, instead of taking sides.

[link]
25 July 2014
Singapore Medical Council to tighten disciplinary framework, processes
Channel NewsAsia

Many changes have been made to the local disciplinary framework for doctors, in light of the Singapore Medical Council Review Committee’s recommendation. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, past SMA President and current Council Member, welcomed the recommendations as he emphasised the importance of alleviating the public’s fears and concerns over the transparency of SMC’s disciplinary proceedings and the long duration needed, as well as ensuring a fair trial for convicted doctors.

[link]

7 July 2014
More manpower needed in palliative care sector
TV News and Channel NewsAsia

Various TV news programmes and article reported Ministry of Health’s estimates that it will have to double manpower capacity in the palliative care sector, from the current 150 to 300 by 2020, so as to meet the expected end-of-life care needs of more than 10,000 Singaporeans. SMA 1st Vice President Dr Wong Tien Hua said that it is very difficult to make palliative care training compulsory for all doctors. He opined that the best way forward is to find out the interests of doctors, whether they have more interest in treating elderly patients and chronic conditions, or are more accustomed to treating acute conditions. Besides that, SMA actively publicises palliative care training opportunities for doctors, such as the Postgraduate Course in Palliative Medicine under Singapore Hospice Council.

Channel NewsAsia: [link]
July - August issue
“Excuse me, auntie, we are medical students. May we…?"
Singapore Health


SMA President A/Prof Chin Jing Jih wrote about patient participation in medical education for the February edition of his President's Forum column. This article was adapted and published in the Singapore General Hospital's official publication, Singapore Health. 
[link]
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June 2014

7 June 2014
The greatest increase in claim limits is for surgical procedures
Lianhe Zaobao

The MediShield Life Review Committee has recommended increasing the claim limit for various surgical procedures. Dr Wong Chiang Yin, who is a Council Member and past President of SMA, pointed out that for more difficult and extensive surgical procedures like heart bypass and resection of neurological cancers, the increase in claim limits will lead to lesser payment from Medisave and out-of-pocket expenses. Dr Wong also highlighted that there has been no information on the coverage of expensive investigations by the MediShield Life thus far.

 
6 June 2014
Local children allergic to peanuts and bird nests
Shin Min Daily News

Singapore Medical Journal's May 2014 issue features a review article stating that people from different regions are experiencing varying allergic reactions due to dietary and cultural differences. Researchers Dr Allison Joanne Lee and A/Prof Lynette Shek showed statistics that among children in Singapore who were admitted to the emergency department due to allergic reactions, 63% of the cases were due to food allergy. The top cause for these food allergy cases is peanuts.

Original article:
Food allergy in Singapore: opening a new chapter
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May 2014

11 May 2014
Higher aspirations one reason S’poreans find cost of living high: Ng Eng Hen
TODAYonline

At the 55th SMA Annual Dinner, Minister for Defence Mr Ng Eng Hen led a dialogue session and answered a question about the rising cost of living in Singapore. Minister Ng said that despite an increase in real wages, Singaporeans still find the cost of living here expensive because they now have higher aspirations in life. Besides that, Minister Ng also suggested that healthcare needs to make three shifts for the future.

[link]






 

10 May 2014
Make healthcare jobs more attractive by raising salaries: Ng Eng Hen
The Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia, Lianhe Zaobao, and TV News

Minister for Defence Mr Ng Eng Hen, who was the Guest-of-Honour for the 55th SMA Annual Dinner, conducted a dialogue session with the doctors present. Minister Ng opined that one of the ways to make a career in the healthcare sector a much more sought after one would be to raise salaries. However, he also noted that the various medical professions must add value and productivity so that an increase in salaries could be considered.
 

The Straits Times: [link]
Channel NewsAsia: [link]


 

 

10 May 2014
Singapore Medical Association hosts 16th MASEAN conference
XinMSN News

The article reported that SMA hosted a health conference focusing on how to prepare and respond to pandemics, which was attended by delegates from National Medical Associations throughout Southeast Asia.

[link]
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April 2014

9 April 2014
Pioneering chance for docs to boost seniors' quality of life
The Straits Times

SMA President A/Prof Chin Jing Jih’s article in the SMA News March 2014 edition was featured in the newspaper. In his article, A/Prof Chin discussed some concerns that may arise from the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) and how doctors can help to boost seniors’ quality of life. He also highlighted that with a rapidly ageing population, the PGP was an excellent opportunity for doctors to take up the challenge of improving the health and quality of life for seniors in Singapore.
 

Original article: 
The Pioneer Generation Package – Implications for Good Medical Practice
4 April 2014
Stress, myopia, and sinusitis could cause headaches in children
Lianhe Wanbao

The newspaper article quoted a paper entitled "Headaches in children", which was published in the Singapore Medical Journal's March issue. It reported that schoolgoing children experience headaches due to various causes, including more serious ones such as viral infections and brain tumours.

Original article:
Headaches in children
2 April 2014
Family doctors need more regular exercise and vaccinations: Study
TODAYonline

The March 2014 edition of the Singapore Medical Journal featured the results of a local study, which found that while few family doctors here smoke and drink excessively, more could do with regular exercise and immunisation against common infectious diseases. The newspaper report also noted that the study, which surveyed 631 doctors working in primary care institutions between April and July 2011, was the first of its kind to look at how primary care physicians here stay healthy.

[link]

Original article: 
How do primary care physicians in Singapore
keep healthy?

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March 2014

28 March 2014
One in six S’pore youths faces risk of hearing loss: Study
The Straits Times, The New Paper and Shin Min Daily News

Singapore General Hospital’s Ear, Nose and Throat specialists and Temasek Polytechnic’s engineering lecturers conducted and published a study in the Singapore Medical Journal’s February issue. The article, titled “The music listening preferences and habits of youths in Singapore and its relation to leisure noise-induced hearing loss”, stated that at least one in six Singapore youths faces the risk of losing his or her hearing because of the loud music they listen to on portable players.


 

The Straits Times: [link]

Original article: 
The music listening preferences and habits of youths
in Singapore and its relation to leisure noise-induced
hearing loss

7 March 2014
Prolonged listening to loud music through earphones can cause hearing loss
Lianhe Wanbao

According to a study published in the February 2014 issue of Singapore Medical Journal, one in six young persons in Singapore is at risk of developing leisure noise-induced hearing loss from music delivered via earphones.


Original article: 
The music listening preferences and habits of youths
in Singapore and its relation to leisure noise-induced
hearing loss
back to top >

February 2014

12 February 2014
HPB should amend FAQ to give more information on HIV risk
TODAY

Following the Health Promotion Board’s FAQ on sexuality, Lam Jer-Gen wrote a letter stating why the content was not objective in his opinion. He cited statistics from a December 2011 Singapore Medical Journal article, titled “Acute HIV infection in Singapore: predominance of men who have sex with men”. The journal report indicated that men who have sex with men accounted for the majority of patients with acute HIV infections in Singapore, with many of them also infected with syphilis.

Original article: HPB should amend FAQ to give more information on HIV risk 
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January 2014

18 January 2014
Those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea need to wear face mask to sleep
Shin Min Daily News

The Singapore Medical Journal’s December 2013 issue featured a study titled “Compliance with noninvasive home ventilation in children with obstructive sleep apnoea”, which was based on 88 paediatric patients who sought treatment at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital from 1 January 2000 to 31 May 2008. The research team found that only less than half of the patients were willing to wear face masks, citing reasons such as possible side-effects.

Original article: Compliance with noninvasive home ventilation in
children with obstructive sleep apnoea
9 January 2014
Parents, your child may be too young for that toy
The Straits Times

The November 2013 edition of the Singapore Medical Journal featured the findings of a recent study from the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) in a research paper titled “Toy safety in Singapore: where are we now?” A total of 93 sets of parents and caregivers from the KKH children’s emergency department were surveyed on topics pertaining to toy-related injuries, which is a common reason for emergency department visits in the paediatric population.

Original article: Toy safety in Singapore: where are we now?
9 January 2014
Kids too young for toys? Parents still buy them
MyPaper

Based on the paper titled “Toy safety in Singapore: where are we now?” in the November 2013 edition of the Singapore Medical Journal, the article stated that most parents are aware that certain toys are inappropriate for their children, but they buy them anyway. One of the authors, Dr Chong Shu Ling, from the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital explained that more than 500 toy-related injury cases in children less than five years old are seen at the hospital’s children’s emergency department every year.

[link]

Original article: Toy safety in Singapore: where are we now?

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December 2013

December 2013
The price of good health
The Consumer

Dr Tan Yia Swam, the deputy editor of SMA News, wrote an article offering simple tips on how to stay healthy at an affordable “price” in the Consumers Association of Singapore’s fourth publication issue in 2013.

[The Consumer 2013 Issue 4]
Missing medical student's research published in journal
8 December 2013
The Straits Times

Medical student Kouk Leong Jin, who went missing in Greece two years ago, was the main author of a research paper that was published in the August 2013 issue of Singapore Medical Journal. The paper, titled “A prospective study of risk factors for first trimester miscarriage in Asian women with threatened miscarriage”, consisted mostly of Leong Jin’s work that were put together and published by his three mentors at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore.
[link]

Original Article: A prospective study of risk factors for first trimester
miscarriage in Asian women with threatened
miscarriage
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November 2013

9 November 2013
Hospitals give too much sick leave for injuries: Bosses
The Straits Times

More than ten companies in the marine and construction industries believe that their foreign workers are receiving too much medical leave from hospitals for cuts and fractures. Dr T Thirumoorthy, who is the Executive Director of SMA Centre for Medical Ethics & Professionalism, advised, “Doctors should exercise good clinical and ethical judgement when giving medical certificates. How much sick leave a worker gets should be based on objective assessment and not other considerations, such as who is paying for the treatment. Without a doubt, a doctor’s primary obligation is to serve the welfare and best interests of the patient.”

 

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October 2013

26 October 2013
Parkway medical price list welcome
The Straits Times

Parkway Pantai published a price list of 30 common procedures at its hospitals in October 2013, based on patients’ medical bills in the past year. SMA 1st Vice President Dr Wong Tien Hua stated that SMA supported Parkway Pantai’s release of their price list as the association has been a strong advocate of fee and price transparency in the medical profession to serve and safeguard the interest of patients.

 
24 October 2013
Requiring medical treatment – youths starting on self-mutilation at age 12
Lianhe Wanbao

According to a study published in the September issue of the Singapore Medical Journal, 23.6% of young patients at a psychiatric clinic had shown self-mutilation tendencies, with the majority being female. The study observed that in Asian societies, self-mutilation was more likely in the form of physically hitting oneself, while in Western societies, the tendency was to cut oneself on purpose. The researchers opined the importance of ensuring that a treatment protocol is suitable for Singaporean patients before implementing it.

Original Article: Deliberate self-harm in adolescent psychiatric outpatients in Singapore: prevalence and associated risk factors
11 & 14 October 2013
Letter of clarification from Mr Ngiam Tong Dow
AsiaOne, Channel NewsAsia, Singapolitics, The Straits Times, TODAYonline, Yahoo Singapore

Various media platforms reported that Mr Ngiam Tong Dow issued a letter to SMA News Editor Dr Toh Han Chong, to clarify the statements he made in an interview with SMA News that was published in the September 2013 edition of the newsletter.

 

 

3 October 2013
Blog Talk on Ngiam Tong Dow
The New Paper

A side bar highlighted various blogs who mentioned the interview with SMA Lecturer 2013, Mr Ngiam Tong Dow that was published in the September 2013 issue of SMA News. These blogs include www.breakfastnetwork.sg and mothership.sg, which commented on Mr Ngiam’s thoughts on various topics, including his experience at various ministries.

Original Article: 
Singapore – International Medical Centre: A Missed Opportunity, or Not Too Late?
1 October 2013
On healthcare, F1 and politicians
TODAY

The September 2013 issue of SMA News featured an interview with Mr Ngiam Tong Dow, who will be the SMA Lecturer 2013, and TODAY has reprinted it in part. Mr Ngiam shared his views about Singapore’s potential to become an international medical centre, as well as healthcare-related issues such as medical school enrolment and healthcare delivery, among other topics.

 

[link]

Original Article:
Singapore – International Medical Centre: A Missed Opportunity, or Not Too Late?

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September 2013

5 September 2013
What fuels health-care costs? A view from the coalface
The Straits Times

An adaptation of Dr Tan Chi Chiu’s article in the August 2013 issue of SMA News, the commentary explores the real cost drivers of medical services, which include the increase in real estate prices. He highlighted that rising healthcare costs “must never be because doctors are unethically upselling their services, overservicing their patients and taking advantage of patients’ ignorance and vulnerability so as to treat more and charge more”.

Original Article:

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August 2013 

23 August 2013
“Staying in the Pink of Health” Symposium – Examining Topics Related to Women’s Health
Lianhe Wanbao

The 44th SMA National Medical Convention will be held on 31 August 2013 at Suntec International Exhibition and Convention Centre. Themed “Staying in the Pink of Health – A Convention for Women and All Who Love Them”, the public symposium will feature four breakout sessions with interesting topics related to women’s health. Participants can register choose the breakout session they’re interested in to gain medical knowledge from the speakers there.
 

 
22 August 2013
Singapore Medical Association Public Symposium
Lianhe Zaobao

With the theme “Staying in the Pink of Health – A Convention for Women and All Who Love Them”, the 44th SMA National Medical Convention will examine various topics related to women’s health. The public symposium will have four distinct and insightful breakout sessions (Body Image and YOU, Sexuality and YOU, Sleep and YOU, and Aging Changes and YOU) for the public to choose from so that they can learn more about the respective topics from the medical experts. 

 
21 August 2013
Women's Health Seminar

Shin Min Daily News

The 44th SMA National Medical Convention will explore topics related to women’s health, with a wide array of topics with enriching content at the public symposium’s four breakout sessions. The public can select the session they wish to attend and gain medical knowledge from the speakers.

 

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July 2013 

19 July 2013
Time to revisit medical fee guidelines
The Business Times

In light of recent events, the article noted that some doctors were puzzled as to what constituted an “ethical limit” as the limit was constantly changing. It revisited how SMA withdrew its Guideline on Fees in 2007, and how the Competition Commission of Singapore published its decision that such fee guidelines were anti-competitive in 2010.
 

[link]
7 July 2013
Doctors told to give injured workers enough leave
The Straits Times

The article reported that there have been complaints that some injured workers are receiving insufficient medical leave as their employers hope to avoid reporting any workplace accidents. Dr T Thirumoorthy, Executive Director of the SMA Centre for Medical Ethics & Professionalism, reiterated that a doctor’s primary obligation would be towards the patient’s wellbeing. He emphasised that medical certificates should be issued based on objective medical examinations, and not on who foots the bill.

[link]
4 July 2013
Timely reminder
Lianhe Zaobao

The writer discussed the ethical limit for medical fees that doctors charge, noting that SMA previously drafted the Guideline on Fees that members could use as reference when setting their charges. In his opinion, these set of guidelines benefited patients as they were a clear and transparent method for price setting. However, the Guideline on Fees was removed in 2007 to avoid contravening with the Competition Act.

 
4 July 2013
Revisit need for fee guideline
The Straits Times

The article discussed the difficulties that doctors face in determining the “ethical limit” for the fees they charge, especially for doctors in the private sector. The writer noted that SMA scrapped their Guideline of Fees in 2007 and suggested a revisit of the need for such a guideline today. It was proposed that SMA, the Academy Medicine of Singapore and Ministry of Health could collaboratively provide answers on what the “ethical limit” is for medical fees.

[link]
3 July 2013
Doctor’s charges: How high is too high?
The Straits Times

The report featured private practitioners’ views on the ethical limit for medical fees. In addition, the article mentioned that SMA had published a set of Guideline of Fees in 1987. However, they were scrapped in 2007 to avoid contravening the Competition Act. Dr Jeremy Lim highlighted that without any specific guidelines in place, it would be almost impossible for doctors to know where to draw the line when setting their medical fees.



 
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June 2013 

1 June 2013
Psychological preparedness most important defence against disease outbreak: PM Lee
TODAY

The article reported on the SARS commemorative ceremony held by the Ministry of Health as well as the SMA SARS 10th Anniversary Symposium. Prof Tan Chorh Chuan’s keynote lecture at the SMA SARS 10th Anniversary Symposium was highlighted in the article. Prof Tan, who was the Director of Medical Services during the SARS outbreak, shared on the lessons we have learnt and what we have not learnt from the SARS outbreak. He noted the strategies adopted by the authorities that worked well against the SARS outbreak, but cited missed opportunities in research, like investigating why some individuals were “super spreaders”. Prof Tan’s lecture also mentioned a lesser known cluster of SARS cases, which resulted because a hospital healthcare worker who was under quarantine went to play mahjong with friends.
 
[link]
1 June 2013
Defence against outbreaks boosted
The Straits Times

The report mentioned the SMA SARS 10th Anniversary Symposium, which was held in College of Medicine Building on 31 May 2013. It was reported that in SMA President A/Prof Chin Jing Jih’s welcome address, he praised the less-publicised heroes such as those in primary care, including GPs and polyclinic staff, who were among the first to come in contact with SARS patients.
 
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May 2013 

31 May 2013
More than 300 healthcare workers mark SARS 10th anniversary
Channel NewsAsia

On 31 May 2013, more than 300 healthcare workers, including those who were at the front line during the SARS outbreak, gathered for the SMA SARS 10th Anniversary Symposium to mark the day Singapore was declared SARS-free ten years ago. Health Minister, Mr Gan Kim Yong was also present. Through the symposium, SMA hopes to remind healthcare workers about the lessons learnt from the SARS pandemic and the importance of being vigilant. In this regard, Dr Wong Chiang Yin, chairman of the SMA SARS 10th Anniversary Symposium committee, said: "The mozzie wipeout remains very relevant and critical to the control of transmission and that really requires vigilance and discipline. Everybody must be involved. Not just healthcare workers, NEA (National Environment Agency) officials but everybody, the whole community.”
 
 
22 May 2013
SMA explains aim of giving feedback
The Straits Times

Dr Tammy Chan, SMA’s Honorary Secretary, wrote in response to Salma Khalik’s report (“Medical council urged to be ‘more transparent’”, 17 May 2013), clarifying the purpose behind the 53rd SMA Council’s feedback that was published in the April 2013 issue of SMA News. SMA highlighted that they have sent in suggestions to the SMC Review Committee, following SMC’s request for feedback, with an aim of self-improvement within the medical profession. SMA expressed its appreciation and support for the Review Committee’s time and commitment in undertaking a comprehensive review to raise the standards of the medical profession.
 
[link]

Original Article:
20 May 2013
Tenth anniversary of SARS: The lessons learnt from the battle against SARS
Lianhe Zaobao

Dr Wong Chiang Yin, who was President of the Singapore Medical Association from 2006 to 2009 and held the post of Chief Operating Officer in Singapore General Hospital during the SARS outbreak, wrote a commentary about the lessons learnt from the pandemic. He mentioned that the three key principles in controlling infectious diseases are: cutting off the source of transmission early, breaking the links for infections, and isolating and treating patients. Dr Wong concluded that he felt that a stronger response towards a disease outbreak was, in fact, compassion.
 
 
17 May 2013
Medical council urged to be ‘more transparent’
The Straits Times

The report referenced an article that was published in the April 2013 issue of SMA News, regarding SMA’s feedback to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) Review Committee, which requested for greater transparency in the disciplinary proceedings. As the Review Committee has to achieve a set of aims that will have a significant impact on the medical profession, SMA feels that it is important that the members of the committee are made known. Other suggestions made include separating the roles of members in SMC and Ministry of Health as the latter is often the complainant, in order to prevent conflicts of interest, and the breakdown of the average cost per case.
Original Article:
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April 2013 

30 April 2013
SMA calls for more transparency in dealing with errant doctors
TODAY

The article covered the details of the feedback provided by the SMA to the SMC review committee for complaints and disciplinary processes, referencing to the letter published in the SMA News April 2013 issue. The article mentioned SMA's call for greater transparency, proper training, use of Government Legal Service Officers, Certificate of Good Standing, amongst others. The article also mentioned that an SMC spokesperson told TODAY that the review committee is considering the feedback received. Its report will be published after the review is completed, and the committee members will be made known then.
 

Original Article:
SMA calls for more transparency in dealing with errant doctors

SMA News Article:
Submission of Feedback by SMA to SMC Review Committee

9 April 2013
Hold public forum on assisted dying
The Straits Times

The writer quoted Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon's speech on euthanasia at the recent SMA Lecture 2012 on 9 March 2013, that assisted dying was “an irreducibly human issue”. In the writer's opinon, the Government should hold a public forum on the issue of assisted dying and seek a general consensus on terminally-ill patients’ decision to end their own lives.

Original Article:
Hold public forum on assisted dying
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March 2013

24 March 2013
Back from the dead: ‘I have been blessed with a second chance’
The Straits Times

Following a mention in Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon’s lecture at the SMA Lecture 2012 on euthanasia and assisted dying, the report carried the full story of Singaporean lawyer Suzanne Chin’s ordeal of being certified as brain-dead in a Hong Kong hospital but she recovered within a week after her hospital admission. Her heart valve was restored without open heart surgery and she has normal brain activity today.

 

Original Article (Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon's speech):

 Euthanasia: A Matter of Life or Death?

20 March 2013
Euthanasia is a matter for Parliament: CJ
The Straits Times

At the SMA Lecture 2012, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon suggested the Parliament should decide if voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide, was to be allowed in Singapore. In his lecture, titled "Euthanasia: a matter of life or death?”, Chief Justice Menon showed that even science did not have all the answers through the example of Singaporean lawyer Suzanne Chin, who woke up despite being declared brain-dead. The event saw approximately 200 attendees, including doctors and lawyers.

 

Original Article (Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon's speech): 

Euthanasia: A Matter of Life or Death?

8 March 2013
Cervical cancer rates drop after Pap smear scheme
The Straits Times

The article reported that cervical cancer rates have reduced after the national Pap smear screening programme, CervicalScreen Singapore, was introduced in 2004. A Health Promotion Board study that was published in the February 2013 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal was quoted as stating that the number of new cervical cancer cases fell by 8% annually between 2004 and 2008, which was double the rate of decline as compared to previous years. The study also showed that 8.2% fewer women died of cervical cancer during the same period between 2004 and 2008.

Original Article:

Evaluation of the National Cervical Cancer Screening
Programme in Singapore

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January 2013

29 January 2013
SMC elections and disciplinary process: SMA replies
The Straits Times

SMA responded to Singapore Medical Council’s (SMC) letter ("Very few verdicts get overturned: SMC", 23 January 2013), which was written in response to SMA’s earlier letter ("Doctors' concerns not frivolous: SMA"; 11 January 2013). Following SMC’s response, the writers shared that a letter from the Director of Medical Services to all doctors indicated that one in three doctors who appealed managed to overturn the SMC verdict. The writers then noted that they were glad that a review committee has since been formed.

 

[link]

Original Article:

Very few verdicts get overturned

Doctors' concerns not frivolous: SMA

23 January 2013
Very few verdicts get overturned: SMC
The Straits Times

Dr Lau Hong Choon, Executive Secretary of the Professional Conduct and Professional Standards Division, Singapore Medical Council (SMC), replied to the letter from SMA’s Dr T Thirumoorthy and Dr Wong Chiang Yin ("Doctors' concerns not frivolous: SMA", 11 Jan 2013) and Salma Khalik (“Doctor, heal thyself – with outside help”, 17 Jan 2013). SMC clarified that the elections statistics stated in SMA’s letter were inaccurate. SMC further emphasised that in the last SMC election that received approximately 98% of member votes, only 20% cast empty votes while the remaining 80% voted for one or more candidates.

 

[link]

Original Article:

Doctors' concerns not frivolous: SMA

11 January 2013
Doctors' concerns not frivolous: SMA
The Straits Times

Dr T Thirumoorthy, Director of the Centre for Medical Ethics & Professionalism, SMA, and Dr Wong Chiang Yin, Chairman, Ethics Committee, SMA clarified that the perception of any conflict of interest in the disciplinary proceedings of doctors is not indicative that there were any allegations of intentional wrongdoing by any individual, in response to an earlier article ("Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC"; 9 Jan 2013). Whilst acknowledging the contributions made by Singapore Medical Council (SMC) members, the writers raised several things that could be improved on at the administrative and prosecuting levels within the SMC.

 

[link]

 

Original Article:

Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC

11 January 2013
SMC shouldn't confuse message with messenger
The Straits Times

In the letter, Dr Jeremy Lim expressed his disappointment at the SMC’s response ("Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC"; 9 Jan 2013) to Dr T Thirumoorthy and Dr Chua Boon Ling’s feedback to improve its disciplinary processes. He added that the council should address the issues they pointed out and not the writers themselves. Dr Lim shared that as a doctor, he was saddened by the council’s stance on doctors offering feedback and shocked by the hostility directed at alternative perspectives.

 

[link]

 

Original Article:

Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC

11 January 2013
SMC should relook its role
The Straits Times


The writer, Peter Chen was disappointed by the Singapore Medical Council’s response that focused on the financial aspects of disciplinary proceedings, rather than addressing their role in them ("Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC"; 9 Jan 2013). Mr Chen highlighted that some doctors felt that they were not likely to receive a fair trial when called up for a disciplinary hearing, which will lead some to practise defensive medicine, as Dr T Thirumoorthy was quoted (“Medical council: Prosecutor, judge, jury"; 30 Dec 2012) from his article in the November 2012 issue of SMA News.

[link]

 

Original Article:

Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC

SMA News: Professional Misconduct, Patient-Doctor Dispute Resolution and the Medical Council

9 January 2013
Disciplinary cases fairly heard: SMC
The Straits Times

Singapore Medical Council (SMC) responded to an earlier article ("Medical council: Prosecutor, judge, jury"; 30 Dec 2012) that quoted Dr T Thirumoorthy’s opinions in a SMA News’ November 2012 article. They explained that the cases reported in Dr Thirumoorthy’s article were dealt with under the old Medical Registration Act. SMC is no longer bound by law to appoint its council members to the disciplinary tribunal today. They also clarified that the disciplinary committees were not unfairly heard or influenced by the legal fees incurred if a doctor was acquitted.

[link]

 

Original Article:

SMA News: Professional Misconduct, Patient-Doctor Dispute Resolution and the Medical Council

6 January 2013
Taxman claws back $3.2m from doctors after checks
The Straits Times

The article reported that an audit by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) found that several doctors under-declared their income, sometimes with the intent of cheating. Through its checks on doctors, IRAS uncovered that almost four in five doctors made errors in their tax returns and did not record their sales accurately. Apart from picking specific groups of self-employed individuals for audits every year, IRAS also works with the respective industry bodies, like SMA. An SMA spokesman said that it had previously organised talks that help doctors have a better grasp on their tax obligations and would continue to work with IRAS to educate its members.

 

 
3 January 2013
Lack of experience in ethics hinders SMC
The Straits Times

The writer, Dr Chua Boon Ling, agreed with an earlier report’s ("Medical council: prosecutor, judge, jury"; 30 Dec 2012) reference to Dr T Thirumoorthy’s article in the November 2012 issue of SMA News. Dr Chua added that majority of doctors will not see the conflict of interest in the disciplinary process for doctors until they are in an inquiry themselves. He discussed the competence of doctors sitting in the disciplinary panel and highlighted that the topic of debate is nearly always medical ethics, which was not extensively taught in medical schools in the past. Therefore, Dr Chua believed that the disciplinary process for doctors should be reviewed, especially since the appeal court overturned the Singapore Medical Council’s verdict in recent cases.

 

[link]

 

Original Article:

SMA News: Professional Misconduct, Patient-Doctor Dispute Resolution and the Medical Council

2 January 2013
‘Experimental’ clinics under greater scrutiny
The Straits Times

A new licensing framework, which will be ready in the first half of 2013, was introduced in the report. One of the requirements in the new framework was that a demerit point system will be used to identify areas where clinics were non-compliant with the rules, categorising them as “high risk” or “low risk”. As such, the Singapore Medical Association’s 2nd Vice President Dr Wong Tien Hua said that the new system will be more cost-effective and efficient as most clinics will be grouped as “low risk”. In addition, he emphasised that patient safety will be enhanced as “high-risk” practices will be monitored more closely.

 

 

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December 2012

30 December 2012
Medical council: prosecutor, judge, jury
The Straits Times

In relation to Dr T Thirumoorthy’s article in the November issue of SMA News, the writer highlighted the suggestion raised to set up an independent body to take over the disciplinary process for doctors so as to avoid any possible conflict of interest. He reasoned that since the registrar of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) is the director of medical services at Ministry of Health, and the ministry was the “major complainant” against doctors, the SMC then becomes the investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury in the disciplinary process. Dr Thirumoorthy pointed out that an independent disciplinary function will help doctors regain confidence in the fair trial process and not resort to defensive medicine.

 

Original Article:

SMA News: Professional Misconduct, Patient-Doctor Dispute Resolution and the Medical Council

21 December 2012
Patient-doctor disputes can be settled amicably
TODAYonline

The writer agreed with a previous news report (“Prescription for a new disciplinary regime”; 19 Dec 2012) that highlighted suggestions made in the Singapore Medical Journal and Dr T Thirumoorthy’s article in SMA News. He felt that mediation is the right, sensible approach to maintain doctors and protect patients’ interests, as compared to current disciplinary processes that were harsher, more costly and often do not offer any resolution.In addition, the writer also believed that most disputes between patients, or the Ministry of Health, and doctors could reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
 

[link]

Original Article:

Prescription for a new disciplinary regime

19 December 2012
Prescription for a new disciplinary regime
TODAYonline

Following recent news reports about the handling of patient cases, the report quoted SMA News and Singapore Medical Journal’s articles on the disciplinary process for doctors. The Singapore Medical Journal commentary featured lawyers Eric Tin and Kang Yixian, who reasoned that the three-month minimum suspension term for doctors should be removed as it obstructs Disciplinary Tribunal and the High Court’s sentencing process. In addition, Dr T Thirumoorthy suggested in an SMA News article that the Singapore Medical Council should consider developing a process that enables “restorative mediation” before complaints reached the Complaints Committee.

[link]

Original Articles:

SMA News: Professional Misconduct, Patient-Doctor Dispute Resolution and the Medical Council

 

Singapore Medical Journal: Specified minimum suspension term for doctors and other healthcare professionals: a time to rethink, review and revoke?

18 December 2012
Time for more to do pro bono work
The Straits Times

The article reported that pro bono work should extend across more professions in Singapore, especially the medical sector. Citing an example of Singaporean medical professionals heading to disaster zones to conduct relief efforts, it urged SMA to consider forming a formal pro bono scheme so as to contribute to narrowing the income gap locally.
 

 

3 December 2012
SMA opens its doors to medical undergrads
TODAY

One of the key goals of the SMA council is to plan for continuous renewal and rejuvenation of the association and the profession. This is to ensure continuation of the vision, mission and functions of SMA in the long term and the preservation of a common work ethic that will serve the interest of the profession and our patients.  SMA was encouraged by the overwhelming response from the medical students when it extended its membership to the students in the two local medical schools recently. SMA's student membership numbers now stand at 1,148 members out of a current student population of 1,300. We have plans to actively bring the students of the three medical schools together as they prepare for graduation and entering the profession where they will have many opportunities to work alongside each other at the wards. While SMA saw the need for an early engagement of the future members of our profession, we also recognised the fact that the association and its members have a lot to offer our medical students in terms of resources – knowledge and experience.

[link]

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 September 2012

21 September 2012
Life with or without medical fee guide: Comparison is already possible
The Straits Times

SMA wrote a letter on the decision to withdraw its Guideline on Fees in 2007, following legal advice that it could infringe the Competition Act. Mr Joshua Seet's arguments in his letter ("Why medical fee guides don't help most patients"; 19 Sept) focused on three points – that there was price convergence; that prices were sufficiently transparent and accessible; and that the patient had a choice. SMA questioned these assumptions, as healthcare is an example of market failure because of information asymmetry. The reply also highlighted that the fee guidelines were in force from 1987 to 2007, and any fee increases over the period were modest and probably lagged healthcare inflation over the same period. SMA noted that pragmatic questions should be asked on whether patients were better off with or without the fee guidelines, and if they are better informed and protected against overcharging.

 

[link]

13 September 2012
Urgent need for faster TB diagnoses: Experts
TODAYonline

Singapore Medical Journal’s Commentary noted that the increase in tuberculosis (TB) rate could be due to the delay by patients seeking help. The authors of the article suggested that the lack of availability of services or low awareness of TB among healthcare workers may be due to the impression among the medical community as well as the public that “TB is no longer a health threat in Singapore”. The TB rates in Singapore sharply declined in 1997, following the introduction of the Singapore Tuberculosis Elimination Programme. 

 

[link]

Original Article: 
TB Control in Singapore: the high price of diagnostic delay

10 September 2012
Mental incapacity: Few young adults take legal safeguard
The Straits Times

It was reported that more Singaporeans are considering the option of a legal agreement, known as the Lasting Power of Attorney, which allows them to nominate trusted people to make key financial and personal decisions on their behalf, should they lose their mental capacity, but there are not enough young people doing so.

 

 

9 September 2012
Nationwide mental health blueprint is effective
Lianhe Zaobao

A/Prof Chua Hong Choon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Institute of Mental Health (IMH), reiterated during his speech at the convention that the five-year nationwide mental health blueprint emphasised on providing the public with additional knowledge about mental illnesses, ways to lessen acute mental illnesses cases, early detection and treatment, as well as for patients to reintegrate into the society. 

 

 

6 September 2012
Why are we not happy?
Lianhe Zaobao

Dr Ang Peng Chye, a psychiatrist with The Psychotherapy Clinic and Chairman of the 43rd National Medical Convention, explained during the convention that people are unhappy because their mental and psychological states are not healthy due to their fast-paced lifestyle. Dr Ang also explained that some psychological issues that students face today include strong academic competition, obsessive compulsive disorder and erratic eating habits. With regards to elderly people’s unhappiness, Dr Ang clarified that fear of death is one of the reasons behind their unhappiness, which is related to their religious beliefs.

 

 
1 September 2012
Market determines fees, say private docs
The Straits Times

It was reported that doctors in private practice have adopted various methods of setting prices for their services after fee guidelines drawn up by the SMA were withdrawn in 2007, on legal advice that they could infringe the Competition Act. First published in 1987, the guidelines detailed how much doctors should charge for consultations and surgical procedures, among other items, after the Ministry of Health mooted the idea following public complaints about overcharging. The pricing policies of private doctors are in the limelight, following prominent cancer surgeon Susan Lim's battle against allegations that she overcharged a royal patient from Brunei. Dr Wong Tien Hua, Second Vice President of the 53rd SMA Council, said there is a need to address the gap left, and hopes that regulatory bodies can do so. Dr Wong asked, should these doctors not have access to formal guidance as to what constitutes reasonable charging? He reasoned that otherwise, whether any fee constitutes overcharging appears subjective.

 

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 August 2012

31 August 2012
‘Healthy Mind, Healthy Life”
Lianhe Wanbao

It was stated that the World Health Organisation redefined the meaning of ‘being healthy’, stating that “it is not solely based on not having any illnesses and disabilities; it includes having a healthy physiological, psychological state of mind and social adaptability as well”. This was in line with the medical convention’s theme.

 

21 August 2012
More young women are binge drinking
The New Paper

According the the study Addiction in Singapore: changing patterns and evolving challenges, it was reported that binge drinking (categorised by MOH as having six or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion) among young Singaporeans was reaching US levels. The fastest-growing group was women aged between 18 and 29, amd more attention was called to curb binge drinking. The findings were also reported in the Singapore Mental Health Survey conducted in 2010 and at IMH’s NAMS, and the number of new outpatients for alcohol addiction had come up to about 1,200. However, the survey found that alcohol abuse and dependence levels were still far behind from US’ and only a small percentage of Singaporeans developed alcohol problems.

[link]

Original Article: Addiction in Singapore: changing patterns and evolving challenges

   

11 August 2012
Do not drive if you are unwell: Doctors
The Straits Times

It was questioned if the incident at Chong Pang market on 6 August, when a driver reversed erratically over a kerb and injured five people, could have been prevented. The driver in question was indicated to have recently suffered a stroke, though the exact cause of the accident was still unknown. Dr Wong Tien Hua, Second Vice President of the 53rd SMA Council, noted that drivers should seek medical assessment if they had recently suffered a medical condition that might impair their driving. It was also noted that SMA has also published updated medical guidelines on Fitness to Drive in 2011 with the aim of assisting doctors in determining a patient's fitness to drive. 

 

8 August 2012
Docs who draw long queues of patients
The Straits Times

A report noted that some general practitioners drew long queues of patients who liked their bedside manner and found their prescriptions effective. The popularity of such clinics spread through word of mouth and online forums. Dr Wong Tien Hua, second Vice President of the 53rd SMA Council, explained that a strong following of patients were due to reasons such as clinical skills through years of experience and a strong doctor-patient relationship.

[link]

6 August 2012
More doctors needed to fight addiction
TODAYonline

According to the review article Addiction in Singapore: Changing patterns and evolving challenges, published in the July issue of Singapore Medical Journal, the authors felt that there was an urgent challenge to ramp up services and double the number of doctors trained in addiction management. In addition, they also noted that there was an important need for trained manpower in primary care, and called for incentives for those who choose to be trained in addiction. 

[link]

Review Article: Addiction in Singapore: Changing patterns and evolving challenges

5 August 2012
Spike in influenza cases
Chinese TV

It was reported that the number of influenza cases has risen above warning levels, with polyclinic attendances up by 20% as compared to the same period last year. Doctors also noted that patients' conditions seem more severe. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, first Vice President of the 53rd SMA Council, commented that this may be due to the mutation of influenza viruses and a lowered immunity against them may have resulted in a longer-than-average recuperation period. 

 

 

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 June 2012

13 June 2012
Greater autonomy now
TODAYonline

The westernisation of Asian societies has brought about the benefit of greater patient autonomy in medical practice. This has led to a shift towards patient centred healthcare. The study Letting the cat out of the bag: shifting practices of cancer disclosure in Singapore published in the May issue of Singapore Medical Journal found that 18 out of 25 oncologists surveyed were more likely to disclose the cancer diagnosis to the patient first, rather than to the family. This was in contrast to a 1993 study that found nine in ten of the doctors surveyed would tell the patient's family the diagnosis, and less than half (43%) would tell the patients themselves. The report noted that doctors felt that acceding to the family's request for non disclosure would have a negative impact on doctor-patient and family-patient relationships. 

 

[link]

 

4 June 2012
Better process for patients to give "informed consent"
The Straits Times


It was reported that doctors and hospitals are seeking to improve the way patients are informed of the risks and possible complications of surgical procedures they are about to undergo. A/Prof Chin Jing Jih, President of the 53rd SMA Council, noted that although such initiatives should enhance consistency in information, they will only be providing an aid as the doctors will still be making professional recommendations based on each patient's individual contextual features. The report noted that the informed consent process is more critical than a patient's signature as it is an opportunity to discuss options and risks, while building trust and confidence in the patient-doctor relationship.

 

[link]

 

 

 

                                                                                     

5 June 2012
Local study: most doctors will reveal condition to cancer patients
Shin Min Daily News


A Singapore Medical Journal article surveyed 25 oncologists from the National Cancer Centre, Singapore, on how they managed relationships with cancer patients. It was found that patient-doctor communication was crucial when conditions were revealed to patients, and 72% of oncologists shared that they would be upfront with patients about their condition. Doctors were reported to feel uneasy if the next-of-kin requested that conditions were kept from the patient. The article also noted that patients might be able to achieve better outcomes if they were aware of their condition, as they could make better decisions about their treatment options.

 

Original Article:

Letting the cat out of the bag: shifting practices of cancer disclosure in Singapore

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 May 2012

3 May 2012
Last Wishes
Mind Your Body


In the regular feature "Doc's Talk", Dr Toh Han Chong, member of the 52nd SMA Council, wrote about his experiences with cancer patients and their requests to him. He noted that cancer survival rates were increasing with the latest advances in medical treatment, which included tailoring drug therapy. However, he also noted that in cases where there was no evidence that life could or should be prolonged, there came a point when it was no longer meaningful to keep prescribing anti-cancer drugs, and the focus should be to best control the patient's symptoms and enhance quality of life. Dr Toh commented that most cancer patients' last wish was to be free of pain and while physical pain could be managed through medication and other interventions, other pain dimensions required a more holistic approach.

 

 

 

6 May 2012
3 in 100 youths are problem gamblers
www.asiaone.com.sg


In a study published in the Singapore Medical Journal, it was found that about one-third of pathological gamblers who are seeking treatment were exposed to gambling before they turned 18. It was noted that untreated young problem gamblers are at greater risk of developing serious gambling related problems when they enter adulthood.

 

[link]

Original Article:

Are the demographic and clinical features of pathological gamblers seeking treatment in Singapore changing

13 May 2012
S'pore docs abroad needed here: Mr Lee
The Straits Times


The SMA Annual Dinner was held on 12 May 2012 at Marina Bay Sands. The guest of honour, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, commented that there was a shortage of doctors in SIngapore and there is a need for more doctors as the population ages. He urged Singaporean doctors who studied overseas to return. He also noted that Singapore needs to maintain high medical standards and become the medical centre in this part of the world.

[link]

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 April 2012

16 April 2012
More can be done for dying children: Study
The Straits Times


A study published in the Singapore Medical Journal found that for 68 children under the age of 19 who died of illness between 2008 and 2009 in Singapore, few families were offered the option of having the child die at home. The study also found that among the eight in ten patients with cancer, only half were referred for palliative care. The study noted that more can be done to improve the care given to critically ill children, and that doctors and patients seek palliative care for sick children earlier, instead of only when they are about to die. In addition, the study also found that "advance care planning" is satisfactory, and in seven out of the ten cases in the study, the families were told that the child's illness was critical, and were consulted on how they wanted the child's care to be managed.

[link]

Original Article: Do children die? A retrospective review of deaths in a children's hospital

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 March 2012

1 March 2012
Pay revisions may not stem public sector doctors' exodus
The Straits Times


In a report on the exodus of doctors from the public sector, it was noted that pay may not be the main push factor. Other factors may include heavy workload and dissatisfaction with changes to the healthcare system over the years. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, President of the 52nd SMA Council, noted that the high workload in the public sector puts doctors at risk of professional errors and being complained against by patients. He added that an increase in pay may help stem the flow of doctors, and cited reasons including the base pay having remained static for the last 15 years, a salary review being able to help junior doctors cope with their tuition debt, and preventing the income gap between the public and private sector from becoming wider.

 

[link]

 

 

 

7 March 2012
Salary increments for healthcare professionals in the public sector
The Straits Times


Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong announced a new pay framework where public sector doctors would receive average pay hikes of 20% and 17% respectively, and that the increases would not be passed on to patients. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, President of the 52nd SMA Council, commented that the SMA was encouraged by the changes. He also noted that the next steps would be to look at factors aside from salary that have an impact on the retention of doctors in the public sector.


 

 

24 March 2012
More seeking unregulated alternative treatments
Chinese TV


It was profiled that more patients were choosing alternative health services that are not approved by the Ministry of Health, such as hypnotherapy and osteopathy. Dr Chong Yeh Woei, President of the 52nd SMA Council, noted that these forms of treatment were not scientifically verified, but there were some patients who found that the treatments helped their ailments and thus found comfort in them.

 

 

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 February 2012

1 February 2012

Women have better cancer survival rate than men
The Straits Times

According to the study "Singapore Cancer Trends In the Last Decade" published in the Singapore Medical Journal, it was noted that while overall survival rates improved for both genders, women have a 52.8% chance of survival, compared to 40.7% for men. It was also found that mortality rates have decreased for men and women sufferers, and that colorectal and breast cancers are the most common cancers respectively. The objective of the study was to examine and summarise cancer trends in the last decade to allow for comparisons with other countries in terms of incidence and survival.

 

[link]

Original Article: Singapore cancer trends in the last decade

 

February 2012
Why men still pop illegal sex pills
The Sunday Times


In a report on men popping illegal sex pills, it was noted that four men were resultantly hospitalised with dangerously low blood sugar levels. Medical experts noted men took such pills in order to keep their libido up, or to have a quick fix for erectile dysfunction problems. A 2003 study published in the Singapore Medical Journal was cited, which found that 51% of 729 subjects aged 30 and above reported some degree of erectile dysfunction problems.

 

[link]

Original Article: Erectile dysfunction in Singapore: Prevalence and its associated factors - a population-based study

25 February 2012
Treat health as one of an investment
Berita Harian


Dr Abdul Razakjr Omar, member of the 52nd SMA Council, urged the Malay community to avoid getting chronic ailments at a young age. He encouraged Malays to invest their time and energy to take care of their own health early. It was also reported that according to the National Health Survey 2010, Malays had the highest percentage of those suffering from high blood pressure, high cholestrol, obesity and smoking as compared to other races.

 

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