Chinese national fined $7,000 for practising TCM on cancer patient, 72, although unqualified

Samuel Devaraj
The Straits Times
April 21, 2022

A 62-year-old Chinese national here on a long-term visit pass was fined $7,000 on Thursday (April 21) for practising traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) when she was neither qualified nor registered to do so.

The court heard that the woman, Li Li, had practised TCM on a 72-year-old cancer patient in 2019.

The patient, who has since died and was named in court documents only as Madam Sng, had visited Mount E Medical Specialist Centre with her two daughters on Jan 17, 2019, eight days after her cancer diagnosis.

The centre at SBF Centre in Robinson Road is not related to the Mount Elizabeth Medical Specialist Centre or Mount Elizabeth Hospitals.

Madam Sng had a consultation with Ms Wu Aihua, who was introduced as the centre's Chinese physician. Ms Wu is a registered TCM practitioner who was engaged on a freelance basis by the centre.

Li, who was then a company director of the centre, was also in the consultation room.

She asked Madam Sng about her condition and explained how TCM treatments provided by the centre could help with treating the disease.

As she was doing so, Ms Wu checked Madam Sng's pulse at her wrist, and took photos of her tongue, face and hands.

Madam Sng's family eventually decided to have her undergo the centre's TCM cancer treatments, and she was prescribed a 10-day course of herbal medicine. The family paid more than $1,000 for the course.

On Feb 1, 2019, one of Madam Sng's daughters and son-in-law took her to the centre for her TCM treatment review.

This time, Li was in the consultation room without Ms Wu.

Ministry of Health prosecutor Michelle Lu told the court: "After the trio entered the consultation room, the accused asked Madam Sng if she was feeling better, as well as other questions relating to her appetite, her sleep and her general well-being."

Li then employed TCM techniques on Madam Sng by checking her pulse and taking photographs of her face, hands and tongue.

After doing so, she said that Madam Sng's tongue showed that she was "heaty", and that her prescription of herbal medicine should be changed to improve her constipation and other bowel problems.

While court documents do not say how Li's offence came to light, they reveal that on March 5, 2019, an informant reported potential violations of the advertising guides and clinic regulations found on the Mount E Medical Specialist Centre website to MOH via e-mail.

Apart from not being qualified in any prescribed practice of TCM, Li was also not registered as a TCM practitioner with the TCM Practitioner Board and does not hold a valid licence issued under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act 1980.

Mount E Medical Specialist Centre was also not licensed under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Regulations.

For practising TCM without being qualified, Li could have been fined up to $25,000, jailed up to six months or both.

The Straits Times

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