HIGH COURT CASE: LEE EWE POH v DR LIM TEIK MAN & ANOR
The issue before the High Court was whether the plaintiff’s cause of action for violation or invasion of her privacy rights is actionable under the law of tort.
The plaintiff who was suffering from haemorrhoids or piles had consulted the defendant, a colorectal surgeon. She was then admitted and successfully treated by a procedure performed by the defendant. Thereafter the plaintiff learned from a nurse that the defendant had taken photographs of her private parts during the procedure.
The plaintiff commenced an action against the defendant claiming a violation of her privacy and/or dignity by the first defendant. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was not entitled to take photographs showing her anus without her prior knowledge and consent.
The High Court held that the prior consent of the female patient becomes an absolute requirement when it involves such photographs. The defendant as a colorectal surgeon ought to be aware of the need to obtain the patient’s prior consent for such photographs to be taken.
Further, the taking of the photographs was not mandatory or compulsory but only discretionary. Since the patient’s consent for the conduct of the procedure had to be obtained before the procedure was performed, there was no valid reason why her consent could not be similarly obtained for the photographs to be taken.
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