A family medicine specialist has been sued for allegedly missing the timing to treat a woman who died due to an allergic reaction to bee acupuncture at an Oriental medicine clinic in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province.
The bereaved family said the doctor did not react quickly enough to treat the woman.
The woman in her 30s, who was an elementary school teacher, received a bee venom therapy at the clinic on May 15. However, she suffered anaphylaxis shock moments after the treatment, was announced brain dead, and died on June 6.
As the woman’s condition worsened, the Oriental medicine practitioner sought help from the family medicine doctor, who was working at an office next door. The doctor reportedly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the patient until 119 paramedics arrived.
In July, the woman’s family took legal actions against both the Oriental medicine practitioner and the family medicine specialist who helped the patient get first aid. Through the civil lawsuit, the family is seeking more than 900 million won compensation.
“The Oriental medicine practitioner is suspected of missing out a skin test before performing the bee acupuncture,” said Shin Hyeon-ho, a lawyer at Shin & Partners, representing the bereaved family. “The family obtained security camera records and found out that the doctor missed the right timing for treatment because he belatedly carried epinephrine in the urgent situation.”
Shin went on to say that if the doctor was already on the emergency scene and wanted to help the Oriental medicine practitioner, he had “due diligence with good faith” to treat the patient.
“I have not received a reply from any of the accused. We do not know the exact situation at that moment because we have only the CCTV footages. We will listen to the other party’s claim and reveal the truth,” Shin said.
The medical community expressed rage over the news that the bereaved family sued the doctor who helped the Oriental medicine practitioner.
“The doctor was trying to save the patient whose life was threatened due to the wrong procedure at the Oriental medicine clinic. If they take the issue with such medical act, which doctor will help?” said Bang Sang-hyeok, vice president of the Korean Medical Association (KMA). “The KMA will provide legal support for the family medicine specialist.”
Bang said the fundamental problem with this case was that the government allowed the use of bee acupuncture without a bioequivalence test or a clinical trial just because it was an old practice.
“The government should ban all the unverified procedures,” he added.
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