Last year, the medical community came under fire for allowing unlicensed assistants to do doctors’ jobs such as leading a surgery.
The situation has not changed much this year. About 92 percent of teaching hospitals were having unlicensed assistants perform various medical practices, a survey showed.
The unlicensed assistants not only prescribed drugs but directly performed invasive techniques and surgeries. Because of their work, many trainee doctors said they were deprived of opportunities to learn.
The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA) conducted the poll on the evaluation of 82 training hospitals by interns and residents from Sept. 21 to Oct. 31 last year and released the outcome on Sunday.
The pollsters asked if the current training hospital or the one they received training had unlicensed assistants. The respondents’ answer of “yes” matched to 92.7 percent of the 82 training hospitals, except for six hospitals.
The six hospitals that did not have unlicensed assistants were Dongeui Medical Center, Sejong General Hospital in Bucheon, Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service’s Daejeon Hospital, SAM Hospital in Anyang, and Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital.
Among the five largest hospitals, 25 percent of the trainee physicians at Samsung Medical Center said the hospital had unlicensed assistants, 25.3 percent at Asan Medical Center, 18.5 percent at Catholic Medical Center, 24.1 percent at Seoul National University Hospital, and 27.6 percent at Severance Hospital.
All of the trainee doctors working at 79 training hospitals said they have seen an unlicensed assistant directly performing an invasive technique.
Except for Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital, all respondents at the other 78 hospitals said they have seen unlicensed assistance prescribe a drug independently.
Besides, trainee doctors at all 79 hospitals said they have seen an unlicensed assistant leading an operation.
One in four trainee physicians said their educational opportunities were taken away because of excessive scopes of unlicensed assistants’ work.
“Unlicensed medical practice is an illegal act. It undermines the expertise of physicians,” KIRA President Lee Seung-woo said. “The prevalence of unlicensed medical practices could hurt the young medical community’s capability together.”
Lee emphasized that for trainee doctors to receive the right training, hospitals should root out unlicensed medical practices.
“In surgery, treatment, prescriptions of various drugs and high-risk anticancer agents, and patient consultation, a comprehensive clinical understanding is a must,” he said.
Allowing unlicensed medical practices is to damage patient safety and infringe on the patients’ right to know, he added.
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