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#MeToo in hospitals: SNUH, AMC doctors accused of sexual harassment
  • By Yang Geum-deok, Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2018.03.09 18:18
  • Updated 2018.03.10 06:18
  • comments 0

The #MeToo movement has spread like wildfire in Korea leading to the downfall of powerful men, with the accusations of sexual harassment being directed against doctors at two of the nation’s largest hospitals.

The #MeToo movement has spread to the medical community with accusations leveled against doctors at Seoul National University Hospital and Asan Medical Center.

A group of 12 doctors at Seoul National University Hospital’s (SNUH) Department of Psychiatry’s Planning Personnel Committee has requested an investigation into a fellow psychiatric doctor on claims of sexual harassment and other professional misconduct.

The request follows claims of sexual harassment from the pharmaceutical sector by a previous employee of Janssen Korea, and a growing #MeToo movement in the pharmaceutical and medical industry.

The 12 psychiatric doctors at SNUH disclosed the content of a 73-page internal report that brought to light the acts of a fellow doctor's professional misconduct, which includes prescribing narcotics without discretion and not adhering to other policies of the hospital, on top of the counts of sexual violence.

The accused doctor had reportedly sexually harassed several women, including medical school students, hospital employees, residents, and clinical educators. The report showed that the man had been excluded from becoming an academic advisor by the medical school due to these allegations.

“Everyone in the hospital knows about the doctor (regarding the sexual harassment), but the problem has not been solved yet,” said a professor who declined to be named. “It’s a situation that doesn’t make sense.”

On Thursday, the Yonhap News Agency reported that a nurse who was harassed by the man had quit, unable to withstand the sexual abuse.

The report from the committee showed that the doctor in question was reported to the hospital when the incident occurred, which resulted in an investigation that led to no disciplinary action, however. A hospital official said the probe ended abruptly because the victim did not wish to continue.

Another professor who also declined to be named noted that the hospital has no choice but to deal with the problem this time around because of the spread of the #MeToo movement.

The report also outlined the doctor repeatedly missed work or came to work late, did not attend internal educational or academic events and meetings, and prescribed narcotic painkillers without discretion to the point that SNUH became notorious for handing out an excessive amount of narcotic analgesics.

The professors also noted that the accused doctor tendered and withdrew his resignation repeatedly and slandered other professors and hospital employees without any evidence, leading to defamation of other doctors in the media.

The accused doctor has reportedly denied all allegations.

SNUH said that it would take all measures to confirm the reports, noting that the 12 professors requested a probe into the excessive prescription of narcotics and neglect of duty, not of the sexual harassment.

“The accused doctor denies the reports so we cannot confirm the truth at this point,” said a SNUH official. “Because the accounts from the two sides differ, we need to investigate both the Planning Personnel Committee and the accused doctor.”

A doctor from Asan Medical Center was also recently accused of sexually harassing a medical intern. The hospital recently came under fire after a nurse committed suicide last month due to the “taeum (burn-to-ashes)” culture,

Media reports showed that the doctor at AMC took an unnamed medical intern to a hotel almost two decades ago in 1999 to have sex with her. The doctor is still working at Asan Medical Center. He has denied all allegations.

AMC said that it is conducting an internal investigation into the case.

“We are confirming the truth of the reports. The media reported that the doctor is, in fact, a professor at Asan Medical Center in Seoul and does not hold any special assignment. We will open a human resource committee if the reports are confirmed,” said an AMC official.

But the official noted that it would be difficult to levy any disciplinary action against the doctor considering that nothing has been confirmed, saying that he is continually diagnosing and treating patients as usual.


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