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Gov't toughens rules on medical doctor ethics

All News 16:54 March 09, 2016

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean doctors will face harsher punishments for ethical lapses or criminal acts related to medical services under new regulations unveiled Wednesday.

The measure by the Ministry of Health and Welfare came in response to a series of medical accidents and incidents including the 2014 death of Shin Hae-chul, a popular South Korean singer. Shin suffered a sudden heart attack and fell into a coma shortly after being treated for an infection of the peritoneum and intestines at a Seoul hospital.

There was also a recent news report that a female patient was sexually molested while unconscious during an endoscopy.

The ministry plans to revoke the medical service license of doctors and legally punish them for crimes if they are found to have re-used a disposable syringe.

Recent massive hepatitis C infections were apparently caused by the secret practice of re-using syringes at a clinic in Wonju, Gangwon Province.

The ministry suspects that hundreds of people contracted the disease after receiving intravenous injections there last year, with many other similar cases suspected in other clinics nationwide.

Health authorities are carrying out blood sample tests on thousands of patients who received injections at a clinic in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province.

License suspensions will be lengthened from the current one month to a maximum of one year.

The decision was made at a special council composed of 11 representatives from the medical circles, media, and patients' groups.

The ministry has urged the National Assembly to immediately pass a revision to the Medical Law to strengthen punishment against doctors who re-use disposable syringes and engage in other unethical and illicit activities.


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