- National Day goodie bag goes ‘high fashion’
- ‘Peer pressure among factors setting limit for doctor’s charges’
- Docs sue Mindef for copying
The Funpack for this year's National Day Parade has gone "high fashion" with a durable, sail-shaped design, as organisers hope that people will use it as a bag even after the parade rather than toss it aside.
The goodie bag for spectators at Singapore's 48th birthday bash features a flute, souvenir book and mini-banner, as well as familiar items such as a mini national flag, ponchos and snacks.
It can be used as either a backpack or slingbag. The NDP executive committee 2013 unveiled the pack yesterday.
This year's parade aims to strike a more personal tone, with its theme "Many Stories... One Singapore".
The National Day song, sung by local artistes in previous years, will for the first time be sung by a choir made up of ordinary Singaporeans. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
DOCTORS have revealed which factors they use to determine the size of their bills, in the wake of the Susan Lim (pic) overcharging case.
Public sector fees, insurance payouts and peer pressure all help them to gauge the "ethical limit" on how much specific services should cost.
Eight doctors spoke to The Straits Times following Dr Lim's failure to overturn her professional misconduct conviction.
The 58-year-old surgeon had appealed against her three-year suspension and S$10,000 (RM25,000) fine for charging S$24mil (RM60mil) to treat a royal patient from Brunei.
But the Court of Three Judges upheld the verdict, saying medical fees have an "ethical limit" – regardless of market forces or contracts signed by the patient.
While this limit is not fixed, fellow doctors and patients play a big role in pricing policies in the private sector.
Medical oncologist Wong Seng Weng, who runs practices at Paragon and Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, said these factors give doctors a sense of where the average price hovers.
"Most people who have been practising for quite some time will know roughly how much a service costs from speaking to peers or to patients who may doctor-hop."
Liver specialist Desmond Wai, who practises at Gleneagles Medical Centre, said one way to gauge how much to charge is to look at prices at public hospitals, which are available on the Health Ministry's website. Patients' insurance policies also help as there are fixed sums that can be claimed for specific procedures.
But others believe clearer benchmarks will help prevent cases such as Dr Lim's from happening again.
Fee structures are "necessary to prevent exploitation", said one primary care doctor who did not want to be named. He added that medicine "cannot be treated like any other business, subject to the same commercial considerations or anti-competition laws".
The Singapore Medical Association published guidelines in 1987, but they were scrapped six years ago due to the Competition Act, which aims to stamp out anti-competitive practices.
Dr Jeremy Lim, an expert in health systems, said: "In the absence of specific guidelines, it will be near impossible to know where the lines are drawn." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
TWO doctors have taken the Government to court for patent infringement, claiming that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) knowingly copied the concept of their mobile emergency medical station.
The Government, however, has rejected the allegation, arguing that the concept was not new.
It has also counterclaimed, seeking a declaration from the court that the patent granted to the doctors had always been invalid, and an order for it to be revoked.
At issue is the "mobile medical vehicles" used by Mindef. Dr Ting Choon Meng, 53, and Dr Mak Koon Hou, 51, claimed that the concept of the vehicles was similar to theirs.
The duo filed for a patent for their concept in Singapore in December 2002. It was granted in September 2005.
The five-day trial opened yesterday, with the doctors passionately defending what they claim is their invention.
Dr Ting, an adjunct professor at Nanyang Technological University, and Dr Mak, a cardiologist in private practice, launched the suit through their company MobileStats Technologies, which markets their "mobile first aid post".
They are represented by lawyers from Bih Li & Lee.
Their "mobile first aid post" is essentially a truck that opens up to become a resuscitation area with surgical equipment, a built-in suction system for removing blood, fluids and debris, and emergency life-saving devices.
The concept was conceived by the doctors shortly after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Licences were granted to vendors for the Singapore Civil Defence Force, to whom they pitched the prototype.
But according to court documents, Mindef has also been using their "mobile medical vehicles" since at least July 10, 2009.
The doctors have said it approached them before that for discussions about their mobile station.
They then gave suggestions on how to improve it for use by the army, but heard nothing more.
In dispute now are the patent claims of the "extendable overhead coverage panels" – the side walls of the vehicle, which can be raised and include a further extension to provide more shelter. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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