Physicians in South Korea are required to put on their name tags by law. The wearing of badges has become mandatory since the health authorities enacted the so-called name tag law last year, to prevent “fake doctors” from conducting surgeries disguised as licensed professionals.
In May last year, the government revised the Medical Service Law to obligate medical practitioners and nurses to wear name tags. In this past March, the Ministry of Health and Welfare modified the enforcement degree of the medical service law, which went into effect two months later. People in the medical service industry call it “name tag law.”
The name tags should display the medical worker’s name, the license, and the type of the license so that patients and guardians can identify them. A specialist can show the name of the department and his or her position in the department. However, they don’t have to wear them in partitioned rooms, aseptic rooms, and intensive care units to prevent an infection.
The ministry will impose a corrective order on a medical worker who does not wear the name tag. Then, the medical staff will face the fine of 300,000 won ($269) for the first offense, 450,000 won for the second and 700,000 won for the third.
However, doctors and nurses have criticized it as excessive regulation because most of the medical workers already wear the badges that display their names and departments.
After one month of a grace period, the ministry began a crackdown in June. According to data obtained by Korea Biomedical Review through the National Assembly, the ministry made 7,604 raids to hospitals to monitor the wearing of name tags from June 1 to Sept. 30. The number rose from 1,852 in June to 1,969 in July, went down to 1,633 in August but rebounded to 2,150 in September. The authorities spotted only 33 violators and imposed corrective orders on all of the offenders.
“The small number of corrective orders, compared to the number of visits for the probe, shows that medical workers are abiding by the rules well,” the Korean Medical Association said in a statement. “In most of the clinics, the medical service is provided only by the head of the clinic, which makes the chance of misidentifying the medical practitioner very slim. So, there is almost no benefit from the law revision,”
The National Union of Korean Medical Doctors also offered criticism of the revised law. “They treat us like elementary school students, coerce the wearing of name tags and threaten us to punish. These things can never happen in a free nation,” the union said. “Without the name tag law, we were already notifying consumers about our eligibility by displaying licenses and certificates. Making another law is an excessive regulation.”
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