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New Year began with shocking death of psychiatristTop 10 Medical News in 2019 ②
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2019.12.26 14:12
  • Updated 2019.12.27 07:13
  • comments 0

As an online video claiming that dog dewormer fenbendazole could cure cancer went viral, cancer patients conducted “voluntary clinical trials,” trying the canine treatment on themselves in desperate hope. The medical industry had significant legal issues, including the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the 66-year-old anti-abortion law was unconstitutional. Hospitals suffered the worst shortage of physicians this year. The sudden death of Yoon Han-deok, chief of the National Emergency Medical Center, who died of a heart attack at his office, and a patient’s murder of Lim Se-won, a psychiatrist at Kanguk Samsung Hospital, have cast light on doctors’ overwork and safety issues. Amid the controversy over the appointment of Cho Kuk as the minister of justice, his daughter’s being listed as the lead author in a paper published in a medical journal during her high school time became the center of the controversy. Korea Biomedical Review has compiled the 10 biggest medical stories in 2019. —Ed.

The year 2019 began with horrible medical news. On Dec. 31, 2018, Lim Se-won, a psychiatrist at Kanguk Samsung Hospital, died after a patient stabbed him during a medical consultation.

The patient visited the hospital without a reservation almost at the end of the consultation service. People found the incident all the more appalling because the doctor had little time to escape because he first helped nurses run away.

After Lim's death, physicians increasingly feared that other patients could attack them as well and shared the information of self-defense equipment to protect themselves.

In the wake of the incident, lawmakers proposed the so-called “Lim Se-won Law” to enhance the safety of medical staff in doctors’ rooms but failed to yield a meaningful result.

Pressured by the medical community, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced follow-up measures. The government obligated large hospitals and mental health institutions to equip security facilities and workforce. The ministry also mandated patients with early-stage mental illness to receive visits for treatment by psychiatrists, nurses, and social welfare workers.

The measures did not reflect all the demands of the medical community. Still, they helped build a social consensus that doctors’ safety should be kept.

Besides Lim’s death, incidents caused by mentally-ill patients such as schizophrenic Ahn In-deuk’s arson and stabbing rampage in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, have stirred the Korean society.

The nation’s mental healthcare system faced criticism after news reports said Ahn’s family had tried to get him admitted to a psychiatric hospital before he committed such gruesome crime.

To prevent the mentally disordered from committing a random homicide, psychiatrists urged lawmakers to adopt a “judicial admission system” but failed to realize it.


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