TCM practitioner suspended, fined for advising patient to delay cancer surgery

TCM practitioner suspended, fined for advising patient to delay cancer surgery

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SINGAPORE: A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner has been suspended for three years and fined S$10,000 for professional misconduct, said the TCM Practitioners Board on Monday (Sep 24).

Mr Chua Beng Chye recommended that a patient -  who had been diagnosed with early-stage lung and breast cancer - delay the surgery that she was scheduled to undergo.

This could have resulted in a "higher risk of mortality”, the board said in a press release.

Mr Chua was found to be guilty of serious professional misconduct after investigations carried out by the TCM Practitioners Board.

The patient had been advised by doctors practising Western medicine to undergo surgical resection of the cancerous tumours in her lung and breast, and the operation was scheduled to take place on Nov 4, 2014.

The day before the operation, she consulted with Mr Chua, who gave the patient the option of postponing the surgery for three months to undergo TCM treatment. The patient chose to do so, cancelling the operation scheduled for the next day.

The patient's daughter intervened, and the patient eventually underwent surgery on Nov 8, 2014. The daughter also filed a complaint with the TCM Practitioners board.

In her complaint, she alleged that Mr Chua had misled her mother into believing that the surgery could be delayed or avoided by relying on TCM treatment alone.

Mr Chua had failed to carry out an adequate assessment of the patient's condition through good history taking and appropriate TCM clinical examination, breaching the duty of care owed to her, the board said.

He misinterpreted histopathology reports issued by the National Cancer Centre, falsely informing the patient that her lung tumour might not be cancerous. 

He also told her that the growth of her cancerous breast tumour would be slow, which was incorrect according to an oncologist who gave evidence during the inquiry.

Furthermore, Mr Chua wrongly advised the patient that surgery may cause the cancer cells to proliferate even faster, and that her lung tumour was not life-threatening.

In lieu of the surgical procedure, Mr Chua prescribed 50 capsules containing powdered 15-year old ginseng as well as powder-form medicine containing 24 different herbs. This was not an appropriate and generally accepted method of TCM treatment, said the board.

"Mr Chua was neither remorseful for his conduct nor fully aware of the danger that he posed to the patient," said the committee, adding that he had "exceeded the limits of his own competence".

Mr Chua also has to pay for all the costs and expenses of and incidental to the inquiry, it said.

Mr Chua is the owner and shareholder of World of TCM Mediacare. He previously practised at two locations: Oriental Venture Building at 711, Geylang Road and MDIS Building at 190, Changi Road.

Source: CNA/nh(hm)