Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our hospitals' creative definitions of charity.....

Leong Sze Hian's expose on the NUH (Patient Care Charity Fund) and TTSH  Community and Charity Funds' use of collected money provided another jaw dropping moment for Gigamole.

What's going on here?

How can you use funds collected under the guise of charity to pay for education and training of staff, and the building of hospital infrastructure? For the NUH Fund, only 52% of expenditure apparently went to needy patients, while 48% went to medical education, training and research. For the TTSH Fund, apparently only 47% went to real charity-worthy needs. The rest of the expenditure apparently went to finance the building of infrastructure in the form of a new Emergency Diagnosis and Therapy Centre.

If these revelations are true, Gigamole is extremely offended. Clearly these are abusing donor's and patient's trust, not to mention demeaning to the idea of charity.

The Commissioner of Charities should have something to say about these.

The Alirio Melendez research misconduct issue finds resolution.... well, at least some kind of resolution ...!

After one and a half years of dingdonging, the Melendez research misconduct investigations  finally get an NUS report. Twenty one papers were associated with plagiarism, fabrication and falsification. Strangely, the NUS refuses to say which papers. But the NUS apparently exonerated all the co-authors. Whoohoo......! Nobody else were responsible!

Incredible news, I must say. The lead authors of the papers not responsible? I am sure Melendez was not the lead author for all 21 papers. How can this be?

In the NUS, I am told, there is a scheme of apportioning glory and credit for scientific publications. This is for the purpose of chalking up points for promotions and other 'rewards'. The lead and the corresponding authors get 50% of the credit each. All the other co-authors stuck in between get 10% each. On this model, one published paper with a mass grave of 10 co-authors can chalk up a total of 180% credit.

Contrast this with research misconduct, where suddenly everyone in the mass grave is invisible and not involved, and only one person takes the blame for everything.

You go figure the logic!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Depuy hits the headlines in Singapore - finally!

Straits Times Health Correspondent Salma Khalik finally decided the Depuy hip implant problem was important enough to highlight. A half-page spread today.... whoohoo....! Gigamole had been beating this gong for the last 6 months and wondering if anyone was listening. So....thank you Ms Khalik!

Truth is HSA has floundering somewhat with respect to medical devices regulation. With all good intention, it started to do something about it but mismanaged the implementation. After an hysterical outcry from suppliers and practitioners, it pulled back from doing the right thing. Kinda like 3 steps forward and 2.9 steps back.

The Depuy hip implant failure is now subject of a national class action lawsuit in the USA. Just a few days ago, Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle in Australia for A$30,000 per patient. In Singapore however, the situation is far from clear.

There are many problems.
a] Lack of patient awareness. A dear doctor letter was sent out, but there has been no follow up by any responsible party.
b] No one has any idea who received the implant. There is no registry of such implant use.

c] HSA has no idea who is affected, and what to do about it. Gigamole thinks they have just been hoping the problem will fade away in time.
d] There is no service laboratory in Singapore that will measure chromium and cobalt for toxicity.

There is no equivalent of a lemon law for medical devices in Singapore, and no patient consumer movement to look into the interests of the patient-consumer. Like it or not, the only authority who can do this is the HSA, but they seem clueless and toothless.