SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — An obstetrician who ordered a nurse to act on his behalf for 10 hours using the popular KakaoTalk mobile messaging app was able to avoid criminal punishment for the death of the newborn, but has been held liable for damages in civil court.
On December 27, the Seoul High Court ordered the doctor responsible to pay 159 million won (US$142,500) in damages and delayed interest to the mother of the deceased infant.
The baby’s mother visited her usual hospital in January 2015 during her last month of pregnancy. Her doctor, referred to only as Lee, left the hospital for 10 hours and ordered a nurse to act on his behalf via the KakaoTalk app.
The mother was injected with labor inducing medication by the nurse. The baby was born soon after Lee arrived at the hospital, but it had difficulty breathing and was sent to a larger hospital, where it died.
When the baby passed away, its parents filed a lawsuit against the doctor.
Recently, the Seoul Central District Court found Lee not guilty on charges of job negligence, but sentenced him to eight months in prison suspended for two years on charges of falsifying records and submitting them to the Korea Medical Dispute Mediation Arbitration Board.
Though Lee’s behavior as a doctor was questionable, the court ruled that causalities did not add up.
The civil court, however, acknowledged Lee’s negligence and ruled that he must pay compensation. The ruling was based on the fact Lee neglected his duty when he was supposed to monitor and observe the mother and the fetus carefully.
The court further explained in the ruling that it had considered the unexpected results occurring in medical practice.
Lee was only 40 percent responsible for the baby’s brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen as it was difficult to confirm specific proof and causality.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)