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S’pore doctor whose misdiagnosis caused teenage patient to lose testicle gets 1-year suspension

Singapore doctor’s misdiagnosis causes teenage patient to lose testicle

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) has suspended veteran Dr. Yeo Khee Hong for a year following a misdiagnosis in 2019 that resulted in a teenage patient losing his testicle.

According to Channel News Asia (CNA), the registered medical practitioner of about 42 years first diagnosed the teenager with abdominal colic and prescribed stomach medicine. When the patient later exhibited swelling and inflammation in his testicles, Dr Yeo only prescribed antibiotics.

However, the boy’s condition deteriorated and he eventually required surgery to remove his testicle.

Image adapted from Unsplash for illustrative purposes only

It was later found that he was suffering from testicular torsion, a condition where the spermatic cord becomes twisted, cutting off the blood supply to the testicle.

CNA reported that had he been referred for urgent care in time, he would have had a 90.4% to 97.2% chance of salvaging his testicle.

Teenager’s misdiagnosis leads to surgical removal of testicle

The boy, who was 15 or 16 at the time, was complaining about pain in his left abdomen that had started from his left testis when he consulted Dr Yeo at his clinic on 22 March 2019. He also reported increased bowel movements with watery stools.

Dr Yeo diagnosed the boy with abdominal colic and prescribed stomach-related medicine.

However, the boy returned to the clinic five days later, saying there was swelling and pain in his left testis which worsened when he sat or walked.

Dr Yeo then diagnosed the boy with orchitis and epididymitis, or swelling and inflammation of the testicle and its connecting tubes, and prescribed antibiotics. He also ordered a full blood count and urine test to confirm his diagnosis.

However, Dr Yeo did not consider the possibility of intermittent testicular torsion and did not refer the boy to a specialist or the accident & emergency department before excluding testicular torsion.

 

Source: Unsplash

The next day, Dr Yeo told the boy’s mother about the test results, stating that the cause of the swelling was likely an infection. He advised the boy to continue with the antibiotics.

However, the boy’s condition did not improve.  On 1 April 2019, his father called Dr Yeo saying his son was in severe pain. Only then did Dr Yeo advise urgent admission to the accident & emergency department.

A scrotal ultrasound at the hospital revealed that the boy had testicular torsion. He was admitted to a surgical ward and underwent surgery to remove his left testis.

Boy’s testis could have been saved

Around July 2020 the boy’s father made a complaint to the SMC, alleging that Dr Yeo’s neglect led to the removal of his son’s left testicle.

As reported by 8world, Dr Yeo responded to the SMC’s notice of complaint and later sent an apology letter to the patient and his family.

According to SMC’s counsel, Dr Yeo’s misconduct delayed the patient’s diagnosis and treatment, causing him to lose a significant chance to save his left testis.

While Dr Yeo accepted that he needed to be penalised for not referring the boy to urgent care promptly, he argued that it would not have guaranteed the testis would be saved.

He also added that his failure to inform the boy of the possibility of testicular torsion was “a wrong judgment call”, but he did it out of good intentions as he did not want to alarm the patient.

Besides his suspension, Dr Yeo must submit a written statement to the SMC saying he will not commit any similar conduct again.

He will also be responsible for covering the costs of the proceedings, including those incurred by the SMC’s lawyers.

The sanctions against him would take effect 30 days after the issuance of the decision, ruled the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Also read: Doctor At Yishun Clinic Performs CPR On Seated Patient Who Later Dies, Suspended 3 Months

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at news@mustsharenews.com.

Featured image adapted from Unsplash for illustrative purposes only

Kim Shelly Tan

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