SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean medical institutions are in shock after a patient fatally stabbed a doctor at a major hospital in Seoul.
South Korean police reported that on December 31, a patient at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital stabbed a psychiatrist multiple times in the chest.
South Korean hospitals have pointed out that doctors are being exposed to increasing levels of violence.
In fact, a patient at a local hospital in Gangneung, Gangwon Province assaulted a doctor treating another patient and destroyed computers and other devices at the hospital using a hammer in July of last year.
The patient was upset with the doctor responsible for assessing his disability as grade 3, resulting in lower disability subsidies.
In the same month, a drunk male individual in Iksan, North Jeolla Province was apprehended after assaulting a doctor in an emergency room, which is the most vulnerable area in a hospital for doctors to be exposed to violence.
Just a day before the murder, another male individual at Incheon Sungmo Hospital assaulted a doctor at the emergency room for “taking too much time.”
The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean National Police Agency announced a plan in November to put a stop to assaults at emergency rooms by hiring security personnel and detaining suspects before carrying out investigations.
The National Assembly also passed an amendment to the Emergency Medical Service Act last month to include heavier punishment for those committing assault, where offenders can be subject to as much as 10 years of imprisonment or fines of up to 100 million won (US$89,285) for injuring emergency room personnel.
Assaults that lead to severe injuries can be punished by more than 3 years of imprisonment, and murder of medical personnel can be punished either by a life sentence or more than 5 years of imprisonment.
Doctors are calling for a safer medical environment not just in emergency rooms, but also in other areas of the hospital.
“The recent death of a doctor exposes the dreadful reality that felonies against medical personnel can occur anywhere in the medical institution,” said the Korean Medical Association.
“The South Korean government and politicians should understand the gravity of the situation and come up with countermeasures.”
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)