The Korean society is paying more attention to violence against physicians after a mentally ill patient stabbed Lim Se-won, a psychiatrist at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, to death.
Not only doctors but trainee physicians are suffering threats from patients, according to a group of interns and residents.
A trainee doctor working at a university hospital said a patient threatened to kill him just because he refused to change the patient’s medical record.
“The patient asked me to modify the medical record so that he can be recognized as a disabled person,” the trainee physician said. “Physicians cannot state a medical record falsely. I refused to do so because it would be against my conscience as a doctor. However, the patient tried to strike a weapon and said he would kill me.”
The trainee physician’s case was one of the complaints filed at the Korean Intern and Resident Association (KIRA). With similar complaints piling up, the KIRA decided to unveil the details of the complaints caused by violent patients.
According to the KIRA, a significant number of patients cursed at interns and residents. Verbal violence was more frequent against female trainees. A female intern was so stressed out that she even quit the job.
Another trainee physician said, “Some patients intimidated or laid a hand on female interns or residents just because they were women.”
KIRA raised the need for a social discussion about how to provide a safe medical service environment. The group also urged the government to take measures so that patients can receive unbiased treatments.
Lee Seung-woo, president of KIRA, said its 16,000 members, as well as the entire Korean public, would commemorate the late psychiatrist Lim’s willingness to ensure the safety of other people than his own. The doctor had little time to escape from the knife-wielding patient because he first helped nurses run away.
“We should not tolerate violence in medical institutions anymore because it threatens the patients’ right to medical care and the safety of medical staffs. The government, lawmakers, physicians, and activists should joint their effort to make the medical service environment better,” he said.
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