HC Surgical shares fall 10.5% following doctor's loss in defamation suit

SHARES of HC Surgical Specialists fell by as much as 10.5 per cent to S$0.34 on Monday afternoon and then recovered some ground, following news over the weekend that a doctor at its subsidiary had lost a defamation suit over claims of colluding with a fellow specialist for sex with patients. 

HC Surgical's counter eventually closed at S$0.375, down 1.32 per cent with 64,500 shares traded. 

News had emerged over the weekend that the doctor, Julian Ong Kian Peng, had lost a defamation lawsuit against a woman who told other doctors that he and another specialist were taking advantage of "vulnerable" female patients for sexual activities with them.

He runs Julian Ong Endoscopy & Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, a private practice that is a 70 per cent-owned subsidiary of Catalist-listed HC Surgical. 

The surgeon had filed his lawsuit in July 2018, saying that the woman’s claims had injured his reputation and caused him distress, embarrassment and hurt to his feelings.

However, his suit was eventually dismissed in court, with costs, after the woman's claims were found to be justified. 

HC Surgical acquired a 51 per cent interest in the endoscopy clinic for S$2.2 million in February 2017, and then raised its stake last October by another 19 per cent for S$3.8 million. Last September, HC Surgical announced plans to buy the remaining 30 per cent stake in the clinic by Oct 31, 2021.

HC Surgical said in a bourse filing on Saturday that it "does not approve of the matters alluded to" in the defamation lawsuit.

It added in a separate filing on Sunday that, with immediate effect, Dr Ong must, prior to any consultation, inform all patients of the matters alluded to in the suit. Following that, he must also obtain the consent of each patient to act as their physician, save for any emergency consultation.