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Violence, sexual harassment still prevalent in hospitalsTop 10 Medical News ②
  • By Korea Biomedical Review
  • Published 2017.12.26 13:34
  • Updated 2017.12.26 13:34
  • comments 0

The year 2017 started with the ousting of former President Park Geun-hye, a snap presidential election in May, and the inauguration of President Moon Jae-in. The medical community has spent the year adapting to new changes as well as fighting against old evils. More hospitals started to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to their medical care. Some others attempted to resolve the issue of “3-minute doctors’ consultation time” and improve medical service quality. Violence and sexual harassment by senior physicians against trainee doctors and nurses, still prevalent in hospitals, have become a social issue this year. The following are medical community’s top 10 news items in 2017, selected by Korea Biomedical Review. – Ed.

Pictures show nurses dancing during the

A hushed issue of violence, sexual molestation, and sexual harassment within the medical community has become a social problem. And the crisis finally came to a head.

This year alone, five training hospitals had to face investigations by the Ministry of Health and Welfare because of sexual assaults or harassments by professors or senior medical residents against trainee doctors. Chonbuk National University Hospital and Sahmyook Medical Center had verbal violence and assaults between senior and junior residents. A professor at Hanyang University Hospital physically attacked a resident. At Pusan National University Hospital, a professor assaulted 11 residents, which prompted the prosecutors and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea to probe the case. At Gangnam Severance Hospital and Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital, professors sexually molested female physicians.

At training hospitals, such violence and sexual crimes are prevalent. According to a survey by the Korean Intern Resident Association in March on 3,100 physicians working at 66 training hospitals, all of the hospitals had cases of verbal abuse and physical attacks. A whopping 57 hospitals had sexual molestation cases.

The health-welfare ministry plans to enhance punishments on those who assault or sexually molest a trainee physician. Reinforced measures include imposing penalties on the hospital and canceling the designation of the training hospital.

Not only trainee physicians but nurses were victims of sexual harassment, which caused a social uproar in Korea. An incident at Hallym University Medical Center prompted the hidden issue to come to the surface.

It was belatedly reported that nurses at the hospital were forced to dance provocatively in revealing outfits during annual events for the hospital’s medical foundation. As nurses had to wear short pants and make the moves of K-pop girl groups, the public anger so intensified that the Korean people filed a petition with Cheong Wa Dae to punish the hospital.

Amid mounting controversy, some hospitals voluntarily vowed to root out verbal abuse, physical attacks, and sexual harassment. They also pledged to fight against evil practices such as forcing nurses to participate in a hospital’s event.


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