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Nurses protest charging fire survivors with involuntary manslaughter
  • By Lee Min-ju
  • Published 2018.02.02 16:48
  • Updated 2018.02.02 16:48
  • comments 0

Nurses are vehemently protesting the police’s recent comments that they might impose charges of involuntary manslaughter against the nurses and nursing assistants who survived the fatal hospital fire in Miryang.

“Not only doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants but all the hospital employees must rescue patients. If they did not actively try to save patients, they could face involuntary manslaughter charges,” the police said on Tuesday during a briefing on the latest fire at Sejong Hospital in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province. “We will check survivors’ testimony on whether nurses cared about saving their own lives only. If they did, we would book them, and if not, we won’t.”

During the investigation on the Dec. 21 fire at a sports center in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province, the police booked two sports center employees without detention on charges of involuntary homicide. The two did not actively engage in rescuing people and putting out the fire, the police said.

The police are under criticism as they said they could put charges of accidental manslaughter on the nurses and nursing assistants who survived the hospital fire in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province.

On the news over the police’s possible booking of fire-surviving medical staffs, the Korean Nurses Association said the blast occurred because of the hospital manager’s fault. The association said the police should not shift the blame onto the employees.

“The nurses (at the hospital in Miryang) have done their best in patient care, overcoming poor working conditions. Treating them as criminals is taking away the pride and calling of all the nurses who strive to save patients’ lives and health in the field,” a KNA official said.

The Korean Licensed Practical Nurses Association (KLPNA) also expressed regret over the police’s stance, calling it “putting the survivors on death row.”

According to the KLPNA, one nursing assistant survivor from the Miryang fire is suffering a severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The survivor does not respond to the sounds of the surroundings, hides under a blanket in a dark hospital room, and only looks out of the window.

“Nine nursing assistants, who were working at the Sejong Hospital in Miryang, are hospitalized for treatment. Two of them are in a serious condition,” a KLPNA official said. “The rest seven are also suffering wounds and PTSD. It will take much time for them to get back to normal.”

He went on to say that the police remark of “applying accidental homicide” will only result in adverse effects and make the survivors painful. “The police should keep in mind that such comments could leave a bigger scar on the surviving nurses and nursing assistants,” he said.

The official emphasized that the government and the police should ensure that hospitalized nurses and nursing assistants get proper treatment.

Internet users also expressed anger toward the police, saying nurses could have died if they tried to rescue patients.

“Do firefighters get punished if they can’t rescue a person? It’s not nurses who set the fire in the first place,” one Internet user said. “The nurses must be going through hard times psychologically. They are also patients who need treatments.”


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