A 17-year-old is suing plastic surgeon Martin Hung for extreme mental distress.
Well-known Singaporean plastic surgeon Martin Huang is in the spotlight again.
This time, a 17-year-old girl is suing the surgeon for pain, suffering, extreme mental distress and trauma arising from photographs taken of her without her underwear before an operation. Her mother filed the lawsuit on her behalf last month.
The clinic, The Specialist Surgery & Laser Centre, where Dr Huang is a director, has been named as the second defendant.
Both the clinic and Dr Huang have denied the allegations in their defence, filed on Monday, reported The New Paper. It’s not the first time Dr Huang has hit the headlines. In 2009, Dr Huang was fined $5,000 by the Singapore Medical Council and censured for professional misconduct over a cell-therapy treatment he performed.
In this latest case, the girl, who is not named, visited Dr Huang’s clinic with her mother and younger sister on Nov 29 last year. She wanted to get a scar revision and contouring of underlying fat on her left upper thigh.
Her mother signed a consent form, acknowledging photographs may be taken as part of confidential medical records.
An hour later, the girl was brought to an operating room where she removed her clothes and put on disposable underwear, a medical gown and an overcoat.
She was soon informed photographs would be taken, and after some discussion, she was allowed to wear her bra but a nurse removed her underwear. During the 20-minute process which involved Dr Huang, a nurse, another female staff member and a photographer, the girl said she “felt that her privacy had been completely violated”.
A total of seven photos were taken of her upper thigh and surrounding area. No pictures of the girl’s face or upper body were taken. But she claims that Dr Huang and the nurse did not bother to explain or reassure her why she had to remove her underwear for the photo-taking process.
She said she felt humiliated, afraid and confused after the surgery and recounted the incident to her mother over the phone.
She claimed to have suffered severe mood swings and was depressed for a few days after the incident. She said she had to seek post-operative care at another clinic.
She also claimed the consent form did not state that full nudity was involved and that Dr Huang had failed to treat her in a professional manner, abused his position of trust as her doctor and was negligent in performing his duty of care.
She further alleged Dr Huang and clinic staff had committed trespass to her by way of assault and battery.
The girl is also seeking a court order for the delivery of all the photos in documentary and electronic form and for the photos to be deleted from the computer database.
No amounts were specified in the lawsuit but damages sought include medical expense claims and transport expenses to another clinic, said TNP.
WHO TO BELIEVE?
In their defence, Dr Huang and the clinic said the girl and mother “expressly consented” to the photo-taking of the scare and surrounding area.
Dr Huang and the clinic denied the allegations of negligence, battery and assault. They claimed the girl’s pain, mental distress and trauma, if any, were caused by what happened between the girl and her parents after the operation.
They claimed the girl appeared comfortable while waiting in the operating room. Dr Huang said he explained that photos of her lower torso and thigh would have to be taken to document her pre-operative condition and to assist in the post-operative analysis.
It was his standard practice to request she remove her clothes so the photographer could take photos of the scar. They claimed to have told her the photos would be taken quickly.
Dr Huang and the clinic claimed the photo-taking was uneventful and the girl “voluntarily positioned herself” as instructed. The session took less than three minutes and the girl’s face was not photographed, they said.
The girl apparently was “cheerful” during and immediately after the procedure. She looked pleased and said goodbye to Dr Huang before she left the room.
However, according to Dr Huang, she became “increasingly upset” in a subsequent phone conversation with her mum. She then told a nurse her mother was upset her underwear had been removed, to which the latter replied that it was standard procedure and part of the medical management for her condition.
After the girl again spoke to her parents on the phone and appeared upset, the nurse took over and spoke to them. But they refused to accept the explanation for the removal of the underwear.
When she left, the teen “was clearly upset by what her parents had said to her, and how she should answer to her parents’ accusations,” they alleged.