Doctor who was cleared of rape had prescribed cough mixture to addicts
General practitioner Wee Teong Boo, 71, who was acquitted of raping a patient in 2020, had prescribed cough mixture containg codeine to treat patients who were addicted to the substance.
This emerged in the Court of Three Judges on Thursday, in a hearing during which the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) urged the court to increase Dr Wee’s suspension from 20 months to between 30 and 36 months.
A disciplinary tribunal had imposed the 20-month suspension earlier this year, after Dr Wee pleaded guilty to 20 charges of professional misconduct: 10 for overprescribing cough mixture and benzodiazepines and 10 for failing to keep adequate patient medical records.
The SMC’s lawyer, Mr Edmund Kronenburg, disagreed with the tribunal’s conclusion that Dr Wee’s misconduct was not motivated by financial gain.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said it was “fundamentally troubling” that in some of the cases, Dr Wee had prescribed cough mixture to patients who were addicted to codeine because he saw himself as an alternative to street traffickers in Geylang.
The Chief Justice, together with Justices Judith Prakash and Steven Chong, said the charges comprised different categories of cases.
There were instances of Dr Wee mixing different psychoactive drugs, where cough mixture was prescribed to feed the patient’s dependency, or inappropriately prescribed for the underlying condition.
The judges asked Mr Kronenburg and Dr Wee’s lawyer, Mr Chooi Jing Yen, to break down the 10 cases into the different categories and set out their respective positions on the level of culpability and harm caused, and therefore, the sentence.
The case was adjourned to a later date.
Dr Wee was charged in 2017 of molesting a patient, then a 23-year-old student, during a medical examination in November 2015, and of raping her during another visit one month later.
He was convicted of sexual assault instead of rape by the High Court, based on the doctor’s admission that he had inserted his ungloved fingers into the patient.
But the Court of Appeal eventually cleared him of all charges.