Dr Susan Lim: The High Cost of Living ... Unwell

Especially if you're a patient linked to the Brunei palace? You can expect your bill to be as high as $24.8 million!!!

The infamous doctor in this outrageous case (yes, the news has reached as far as New Zealand--and not just Brunei & Singapore) is a surgeon Dr Susan Lim. According to her website, she is the first Singaporean & also the youngest Fellow of Trinity College. Oh, and she has a Wikipedia article about her too! I guess all these may lead to the ridiculously high bill?!?!

And the sad irony is despite all these fantastic amount of money involved, the patient still died of her breast cancer.

With the patient had suffered so much, how credible it is for Dr Susan Lim to claim that "the bill was made with the consent of the victim"? C'mon, the patient was very ill & unlikely to be in her right mind when she agreed to that heart-stopping figures?!?!

PS. The title of this article is inspired from the graphic novel, "Death: The High Cost of Living".

SURGEON Susan Lim treated a patient linked to the Brunei palace for seven months in 2007. Her bill: $24.8 million.

Singapore's Ministry of Health was upset when it learnt about the amount, and that led to it filing charges against the well-known doctor.

That was the claim her lawyers made in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. They also noted that Dr Lim later reduced the bill twice, although it has yet to be paid.

The bill is at the heart of a case between Dr Lim and the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).

She is fighting the SMC's decision to appoint a second disciplinary committee to investigate an accusation by the Health Ministry that she overcharged the patient.

On Tuesday was the first time that it came out into the open that the patient, who had breast cancer and later died, was linked to the Brunei royal household.

From Straits Times, "Surgeon's $24.8m bill landed her in the soup". (23/02/11)

A senior Brunei health official came to Singapore to ask for a discount on the more than S$20 million medical fees being charged to a patient who had been operated on by Singapore surgeon Susan Lim, a court heard on Tuesday.

This evidence surfaced on the second day of Dr Lim's action against the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), which is seeking to start another move to investigate an accusation by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that she overcharged the patient.

The court heard that in mid-July 2007, the director of medical services of Brunei's health ministry flew to Singapore to meet Professor K Saktu, the director of medical services of MOH, to seek a discount on Dr Lim's fees.

When Professor Saktu learned about the amount, he said the fees were very high and might tarnish the reputation of Singapore, especially the medical community.

He told the director to write in to MOH and he would investigate the matter.

During his visit, the director also met the chief executive of Parkway Holdings to see if the latter could help negotiate a reduction in the fees.

Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng, Dr Lim's lawyer, also told the court that after the Brunei director wrote in to MOH, Dr Lim's clinic was raided five times and the case notes of the patient were seized.

A complaint against Dr Lim was lodged by MOH to the SMC, which launched disciplinary proceedings against her.

Mr Lee said that as Professor Saktu is also the registrar of the SMC and was involved in the disciplinary proceedings against Dr Lim, there was a clash of interest and "reasonable apprehension of bias".

He added that he took issue with the raids on Dr Lim's office since the complaint against her was of a financial nature and not one of medical malpractice.

Dr Lim's lawyer added that the Brunei director did not allege professional misconduct during his visit to Singapore and was only looking for a commercial resolution.

But Professor Saktu "elevated a commercial remedy/discount to a disciplinary hearing."

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

From Channel NewsAsia, "SMC must explain why no inquiry was launched". (23/02/11)

A SPECIALIST who treated surgeon Susan Lim's patient sent a bill for $400. She marked it up to $211,000 when she billed the Brunei High Commission here.

Another doctor charged $500, but Dr Lim bumped that up to $93,500. Yet another bill for $3,000 was raised to $285,100.

These and several other revelations of how Dr Lim charged her patient - a woman member of Brunei's royal family - for treatment by other doctors were made in the High Court yesterday by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo.

Representing the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), he cited the allegedly inflated bills to show there was a case for a disciplinary committee to launch an inquiry against the doctor.

Dr Lim is fighting the SMC's decision to appoint a second disciplinary committee to investigate an accusation by the Health Ministry here that she overcharged her Brunei patient, Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit.

The patient, the younger sister of Brunei's Queen and a cousin of the Sultan, had breast cancer and died in August 2007. Dr Lim treated the woman from 2001 until she died.

From Straits Times, "Surgeon inflated $400 bill to $211,000". (24/02/11)

THE deceased younger sister of Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha was the victim of overcharging by prominent Singaporean surgeon Dr Susan Lim, an article from Singaporean daily Straits Times reported.

According to the February 24 issue of the newspaper, Dr Lim was treating the late Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit since 2001 up till her death in 2007, which was caused by breast cancer.

The report said a specialist, who was not named, treated the deceased and sent a bill for $400, which Dr Lim bumped up to $211,000, when she billed the Brunei High Commission. In another instance, another unnamed doctor charged $500 but Dr Lim once again raised the price to $93,500.

Dr Lim also charged the patient for cancelling two conferences, on top of treatment fees, with one bill costing $78,000 and the other up to $180,000.

She also charged between $35,000 and $45,000 a day when her employees accompanied the patient for radiotherapy sessions as the hospital, the newspaper reported.

When the patient was in intensive care for five days in May 2007, she was attended to by the doctors and nurses and for that, Dr Lim charged $450,000 for the first day and $250,000 for the other four days for "monitoring services", according to Straits Times.

The Brunei High Commission, which had by then noticed the irregularities in charges, alerted the Ministry of Health (MoH) and expressed concern over costly medical fees in July 2007.

In the same month, two representatives from MoH came to Singapore and spoke to Dr Lim Cheok Peng, the chief executive of Parkway Holdings, which runs medical centres where Dr Lim holds clinic.

These were allegations that were revealed in Singapore's High Court by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, the lawyer representing the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), according to the newspaper.

Yeo also said that the third party specialists who treated the patient would send their bills to Dr Lim and she would then mark up the bills when she sent her invoices to the Brunei High Commission.

In the hearing, Yeo also said that he was not asking the High Court to conclude that Dr Lim was overcharging, but added that a disciplinary committee should look into the matter.

Meanwhile, in August 2007, Dr Lim wrote to MoH to disregard the bills that were for services provided by other doctors and gave a 25 per cent discount on her own bills.

Almost three weeks later, she wrote to MoH apologising for the "inadvertent mistakes" made by her office.

The ministry then requested that Singapore's Health Ministry to intervene, stating that the charges were "unacceptable".

Three months later, Dr Lim once again wrote to MoH, and offered to waive her fees from January to June of 2007, as a gesture of goodwill and suggest that they pay up to $3.25 million only.

Originally, after the patient died, Dr Lim queried the rest of the 2007 bill, which came up to a whopping $24.8 million.

Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng, Dr Lim's lawyer, told the court that his client had informed the deceased earlier on in their relationship that "the close care and attention she needed" would cost $100,000 to $200,00 a day.

The deceased had also assured Dr Lim that charges were not a problem and quoted that the "Istana is paying."

By January 2009, Dr Lim and her husband went to Brunei and offered to waive all her fees and third party bills if the ministry was prepared to issue a "letter of good standing".

The letter would have stated that the Brunei government would not pursue the matter any further and take no issue with her bills.

Her request was not entertained and claimed that she had a "fee agreement" with her patient.

The lawyer was further quoted in Straits Times as saying that an amendment to a regulation and its subsequent revocation appeared timed to target his client.

The amendment freed the legal adviser of the Singapore Medical Council of the obligation to inform the other party of any advice he gave to a disciplinary committee.

The hearing continues on February 28.

From Asiaone (reprinted from the Brunei Times), "S'pore doctor overcharged Bruneian patient: report". (25/02/11)

A case of medical fraud is making the headlines of leading news papers. A well renowned surgeon of Singapore, Dr. Susan Lim, is accused of over blowing the medical bill of a Bruneian patient.

Reportedly, the victim, late Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit, died of breast cancer after suffering the ordeal for the last seven years. Apparently, the specialist who treated the victim had made a bill of $400, which Dr. Lim pulled up to whopping to $211,000.

Additionally, the doctor had levied cancellation charges of another $2, 58,000 over the stipulated bill. Moreover, she added another $80,000 on account when her staff took her for the CT scan.

Shockingly, when the patient got admitted to the intensive care unit, she asked for $450,000 for the first day and $250,000 for the subsequent four days, in the name of "monitoring services".

With the case, becoming the point of contention for the medical fraternity, the Brunei High Commission sent alarming signals to the Ministry of Health (MoH) to intervene in the matter so that medical practices can be monitored.

In the wake of rising concern over the brewing issue, two MOH representatives visited the medical centers of Dr. Lim Cheok Peng, Chief Executive of Parkway Holdings. Moreover, Singapore's High Court Senior Counsel, Alvin Yeo has made an appeal from the behalf of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), to conduct t a thorough investigation of the matter so that the perpetrator can be appropriately penalized.

Responding to the allegation, Dr. Lim has refuted all the charges made on her claiming that the bill was made with the consent of the victim.

From Top News New Zealand, "Dr. Lim Embarrassed the Medical Fraternity". (25/02/11)


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