A patient was wrongly told that his cancer markers were normal when he had been suffering from colorectal cancer. All because his doctor failed to inform him about his abnormal cancer screening results.

The patient was subsequently diagnosed correctly by another doctor 20 months later and is now undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.

Dr Fernandes Mark Lee, 43, has pleaded guilty before the Singapore Medical Council to one charge of failing to provide medical services of the quality reasonably expected of him.

The incident took place on 9 February 2012, when Dr Fernandes was practicing at Asia HealthPartners at Lucky Plaza. After screening the patient, clinic staff told the patient that Dr Fernandes would discuss the test results with the patient or have the results posted to his home if they were normal.

The patient received the results by mail and the medical report by Dr Fernandes misdiagnosed him as having “normal” cancer markers, but the said markers were in actual fact abnormally high.

“As a result of Dr Fernandes’ oversight and the lack of a detailed, in-person review of the results with the patient, the patient lost the opportunity to take earlier appropriate follow-up action,” said the SMC. “In fact, the patient saw a specialist only about 20 months later.”

The patient made a complaint to the SMC on Jun 18, 2014 and its disciplinary tribunal held an inquiry on Mar 24, 2017.

The SMC has issued a $10,000 fine to Dr Fernandes. However, Dr Fernandes was spared worse punishment on account of his plea of guilt, good character references, his unblemished record, and the measures he took to improve after the error.

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