The little girl had a hole in the heart (atrial septal defect) and her parents decided on the AMPLATZER® Septal Occluder because the procedure is less invasive than open-heart surgery. Adults with an uncorrected ASD tend to exhibit symptoms of dyspnea on exertion (shortness of breath with minimal exercise), congestive heart failure, or cerebrovascular accident (stroke). The procedure takes approximately 1-2 hours, and many patients go home within the same day. But the procedure was relatively new in Singapore then, and the surgeon decided to be extra kiasu (cautious).
|Amplatzer® occluder launched|
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's perspective, the ASD was significant enough to justify the operation. The little girl was home by lunchtime, and playing on the swing, without the telltale scars of a typical open heart surgery.
The doctor whose accreditation was revoked was not penalised for reattaching the severed nerves without the patient's expressed permission. His misdemeanor was instructing a nurse to edit the consent form to include the unauthorised procedure. Electronic forms used at Tan Tock Seng Hospital prevent alterations or cancellations after they are submitted, but Singapore General Hospital has yet to implement such systems. Computers are not fool-proof, the ultimate insurance is a doctor you can trust your life with.