In a rare verdict, a Singapore paediatrician has just been suspended for three months for failing to diagnose and treat a 1-year-old baby for Kawasaki Disease.
Singapore paediatrician suspended
According to The Straits Times, the baby was admitted to Gleneagles Hospital with Kawasaki disease symptoms like high fever and red eyes. The doctor in question, Dr Chia Foong Lin, who was practising at Chia Baby and Child Clinic, but also on call for the hospital that night, initially diagnosed him as having a viral infection.
Though she considered the possibility of Kawasaki disease, she dismissed the idea, and continued to treat him for viral fever, throughout the baby's 4-day stay at the hospital. Only when the little one's parents took him to another hospital, 3 days after his discharge from Gleneagles, was the disease confirmed.
The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in its statement confirmed that this late diagnosis could have turned disastrous for the baby, and led to the child developing serious heart issues.
What was worrisome was, the doctor did not order any tests to confirm or rule out the condition, nor did she have a proper discussion with the baby's parents. According to The Straits Times, the SMC has written, "Instead, she was content to continue managing the patient for viral fever when the clinical features clearly did not point to a simple case of viral infection."
"In view of the patient's symptoms and the significant risks of adverse and severe consequences resulting from a delayed or missed diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease, it would be reasonably expected of Dr Chia to order such tests during the course of the patient's hospitalisation."
Kawasaki disease is an illness that affects the blood vessels, and involves the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes, and most often affects kids under the age of 5. The cause is unknown, but it is probably triggered by a viral infection. If the symptoms are recognised early, kids with Kawasaki disease can fully recover within a few days.
If left untreated though, it can lead to serious complications that can affect the heart. That's because Kawasaki disease can harm the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. The doctor will usually monitor the child for heart problems for a few weeks to a few months after treatment.
Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:
- A fever lasting at least 5 days
- Red eyes
- A body rash, especially on the stomach, chest, and genitals
- Sore irritated throat
- Swollen, red, cracked lips. Swollen tongue with a white coating and big red bumps (called "strawberry tongue")
- Swollen, red feet and hands
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- BCG scar may be prominent
Most children who have Kawasaki disease get better and have no long-term problems. However, early detection and treatment is critical, because it shortens the illness and lowers the chances of heart problems. Heart problems usually won't develop if Kawasaki disease is treated within 10 days of the start of symptoms.
The diagnosis of Kawasaki disease is not straightforward, and a single test might not be enough. If Kawasaki disease is suspected, the doctor may order tests to monitor heart function (such as an echocardiogram) and might take blood and urine samples to rule out other conditions.
Also READ: Our Kawasaki disease scare!
(Source: Channel NewsAsia, The Straits Times, KidsHealth, WebMD)