GEORGE TOWN, MALAYSIA - Surgeons must obtain their female patients' consent before taking pictures of their intimate parts, the High Court ruled yesterday.
Judicial commissioner Chew Soo Ho, in allowing the claim by former reporter Lee Ewe Poh, 51, against general and colorectal surgeon Dr Lim Teik Mau and Loh Guan Lye & Sons Sdn Bhd, said the modesty of female patients must be respected and not violated.
"Failure to do so constitutes invasion of privacy, and a breach of trust and confidence," Chew said in awarding Lee with RM25,000 in general damages and RM10,000 in costs.
Lee had filed the suit against Dr Lim and the hospital, saying that she felt violated after pictures of her private parts were taken during a haemorrhoid surgery.
Chew, in his decision, said the defendants' expert witness Dr Mohamed Akhtar Qureshi, a leading general and colorectal surgeon in the country, had testified that it was an acceptable practice for patients to be photographed under sedation.
However, under cross-examination Dr Akhtar had agreed that the right to make the decision on whether such pictures could be taken or not rested solely on the patients, noting that they must be warned in advance.
"Dr Akhtar said it was only proper to obtain the patients' consent in order for pictures of the intimate parts, particularly female patients be taken.
"Therefore, I find that for a surgeon to take pictures of the intimate parts of female patients, he must first obtain written or verbal consent."
Counsel K. Simon Murali represented Lee, while T. Sagadaven and Ramsun Ho appeared for Dr Lim and the hospital respectively.