Anaesthetist suspended after leaving high-risk surgical treatment again and again for telephone calls


SINGAPORE: For leaving an running theatre a number of instances to talk on his cell phone, an anaesthetist has been suspended for two-and-a-half years by way of a Singapore Scientific Council (SMC) disciplinary tribunal.

Dr Islam Md Towfique pleaded to blame to a price {of professional} misconduct over a process in 2016 wherein an aged guy, thought to be a “excessive anaesthetic menace affected person”, underwent surgical treatment. 

The affected person suffered a cardiac arrest within the running theatre and was once resuscitated. He died the next day to come within the extensive care unit.

“Whilst the probabilities of the affected person’s survival had been low, they’ll were additional reduced by way of the respondent’s prolong in recognising the adjustments within the affected person’s essential indicators and consequent prolong in beginning supportive and resuscitative remedies,” stated the tribunal.

The grounds of the tribunal’s resolution had been made public on Tuesday (Jan 10) after the hearings in October and November ultimate yr.


On Sep 1, 2016, the 64-year-old affected person underwent an open relief inside fixation bone cement proper femur surgical treatment at Gleneagles Medical institution, the place Dr Islam was once the affected person’s most effective attending anaesthetist for the operation. 

The affected person was once thought to be a excessive anaesthetic menace as he was once aged, overweight, and had vital co-morbidity of ischaemic middle sicknesses. He had a coronary stent and was once taking cardiac and anti-lipid medicine. 

 He additionally had more than one myeloma, a most cancers of plasma cells.

The operation, which lasted about two-and-a-half hours, was once a “high-risk surgical treatment”, stated the tribunal. 

“The fitting care and control for the affected person required the physician to be repeatedly provide whilst the affected person was once underneath anaesthesia for the operation,” added the disciplinary tribunal. 

In spite of this, Dr Islam left the running theatre a number of instances on quite a lot of events right through the operation and talked on his cell phone.

“A accountable and competent anaesthetist is needed to be repeatedly bodily provide by way of the affected person’s aspect to carefully track a affected person always right through an operation,” mentioned the tribunal. 

The running theatre has two units of intervening doorways – one set ends up in an induction room, whilst the opposite ends up in the hall.

An induction room is the place sufferers are ready for surgical treatment prior to being transferred to the running theatre.

On one instance, when Dr Islam was once within the induction room, he appeared on the affected person’s essential indicators track during the window of the door between the induction room and the running theatre. 

“However the related benchmark same old required him to were repeatedly bodily provide by way of the affected person’s aspect to carefully track the affected person always right through the operation,” stated the disciplinary tribunal. 

The tribunal added that Dr Islam had left the running theatre a number of instances right through the operation with out briefing the AU nurse – the nurse from the health center’s anaesthetic unit helping the operation – as to what she must do in his absence. 

No certified anaesthetic team of workers or clinical officials had been provide to observe the affected person in Dr Islam’s absence. 

From the pre-anaesthetic evaluation, the physician expected that the affected person would be afflicted by blood loss right through the operation and was once conscious {that a} small embolism (blocked artery) and cardiac ischaemia – when the center’s talent to pump blood is decreased –  had been issues that might be able to get up right through the operation.

All through the operation, an alarm went off and each the affected person’s blood oxygen ranges and pulse studying changed into unreadable. The electrocardiogram (ECG) track endured to turn readings, whilst no blood oxygen degree may well be acquired even after the use of an ear probe. 

Dr Islam ordered emergency blood. 

Closed-circuit tv recordings confirmed that the anaesthetist was once within the hall when blood merchandise had been introduced into the running theatre. He returned to the running theatre and there was once no prolong within the transfusion of blood into the affected person. 

“On account of the respondent’s absences from the running theatre when the operation was once being carried out at the affected person, he didn’t locate, recognise and/or carefully track the adjustments within the affected person’s essential indicators and didn’t begin early supportive and resuscitative remedies when the affected person suffered from intraoperative acute pulmonary embolism,” stated the tribunal. 

Dr Islam wrongly judged that he may depart the running theatre right through the operation to make telephone calls, as he concept that he didn’t depart the affected person too some distance away and was once contactable in seconds, mentioned the grounds. 

“He wrongly assessed that he was once ready to take care of the full control of the affected person by way of expecting the affected person’s wishes prematurely, in line with his enjoy and information,” the tribunal added.

The affected person suffered from cardiac arrest within the running theatre however was once resuscitated by way of a staff of medical doctors, together with Dr Islam. The affected person was once then despatched to the extensive care unit to get well prior to he died tomorrow. 

A postmortem record discovered the reason for loss of life to be pulmonary thromboembolism, a blockage of blood provide to the lungs. 

“The probabilities of the affected person surviving an enormous pulmonary embolism could be very low,” stated the tribunal.

The tribunal added that the affected person’s probabilities of survival could have been additional reduced by way of Dr Islam’s prolong in recognising the adjustments within the affected person’s essential indicators and the ensuing prolong in beginning supportive and resuscitative remedies.


The tribunal – comprising Professor Sonny Wang, Dr David Ong Eng Hui and Mr Lim Wee Ming – stated they had been ready to simply accept Dr Islam’s proof that he had knowledgeable the AU nurse prior to he stepped out of the running theatre. 

Then again, they had been involved that he left a high-risk affected person present process high-risk surgical treatment, underneath the care of the AU nurse and it didn’t seem to be transparent – even from the anaesthetist’s personal proof – that he had knowledgeable the AU nurse on each and every instance. 

Whilst the tribunal authorized that there was once no prolong within the blood transfusion to the affected person, it was once involved that Dr Islam was once giving directions from the induction room when there was once a “large blood transfusion” to be performed. 

The tribunal stated the loss of contemporaneous information appearing whether or not the physician had administered any medicine to boost the affected person’s blood power was once troubling. 

Whilst the tribunal authorized that it was once commonplace observe for anaesthetists to depart sufferers who’re strong with nurses, the SMC raised that the affected person was once “no longer strong on a minimum of 4 separate events”. 

The clinical council stated that the hurt led to was once on the perfect finish of the average vary. 

It was once no longer disputed that the physician’s misconduct could have reduced the affected person’s probabilities of survival, stated SMC. 

When a affected person is underneath common anaesthesia, the affected person’s fundamental physically purposes corresponding to respiring, are in large part dependent at the anaesthetist, the council added. 

It stated Dr Islam demonstrated a “reckless or wilful overlook for the affected person’s welfare and pastime in leaving the affected person’s aspect again and again, regardless of figuring out that it was once a high-risk operation on a high-risk affected person, whose parameters had been deteriorating”. 


SMC requested for a suspension of 36 months.

Dr Islam submitted that most effective slight hurt was once led to, as his misconduct led to “little to no direct hurt to the affected person”. 

He added that the eventual hurt was once led to by way of the huge pulmonary embolism and that the affected person’s probabilities of surviving one of these complication had been “very low”.

He stated that there aren’t any legitimate pointers or notices relating to making telephone calls whilst anaesthetists are caring for their sufferers.

The anaesthetist raised that Expressway Pantai, which runs Gleneagles Medical institution, had already suspended him for 6 months from Mar 1, 2017. He submitted that his degree of culpability was once medium and requested for a shorter length of suspension of seven-and-a-half months.

The tribunal disagreed and located that Dr Islam’s degree of culpability was once excessive and that the extent of injury was once inside the perfect finish of the average vary.

They discovered that Dr Islam didn’t prevent his observe of taking telephone calls right through operations and stated it had “critical misgivings” about Dr Islam’s competition that he was once not likely to reoffend.

Even if Dr Islam was once suspended by way of Expressway for 6 months, he endured to paintings with different hospitals right through that length.

But even so being suspended for two-and-a-half years, Dr Islam was once additionally censured and has to chorus from “enticing within the habits complained of, or any an identical habits, in long run”.

He was once additionally ordered to pay prices for the listening to and for SMC. The suspension began 40 days after the date of the order on Nov 30, 2022.



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