The monthly conflict resolution forum on the Medical Law reform, co-hosted by the Center for Conflict Resolution and Negotiation (CCRN) of the KDI School and the JoongAng Ilbo, was held on February 22.
Much criticism and disapproval toward the Ministry of Health and Welfare was displayed during the forum regarding the reaction of the Ministry toward stipulations of the reforms. A comprehensive reform of the Medical Law requires in-depth reviews and discussions with the Korean Medical Association from the Ministry. However, some participants claimed that the Ministry has not shown efforts to work together with the Korean Medical Association on Medical Law-related issues.
Another area of contention revolved around hospitals touting patients. Some argued that this kind of action defied the original purpose of advancing the medical industry, and also made way for hospitals to lure patients, resulting in excessive competition and unnecessary medical procedures. In the end, medical institutions would end up being dependent upon large insurance companies. However, opponents asserted that easing medical regulations would improve the quality of the medical industry because it would increase the opportunity for the medical industry to gain competitiveness by attracting foreign clients.
Free-lance doctors were yet another sensitive issue. On the one hand, an official from the Korean Hospital Association acknowledged that free-lance doctors could be beneficial for small and medium sized hospitals due to shared use of equipment and facilities. On the other hand, an attorney claimed that in the case of any medical accidents, it would be difficult to decide who to hold accountable.
The Korean Medical Association and the Korean Hospital Association both raised concern about diagnoses and prescriptions given by nurses, saying that if diagnosis rights are given to several parties, there is danger of excessive medical practices. Some say that maintaining the vertical order of command between doctors and nurses is needed to ensure people’s health, even though there are cases where doctors may choose to entrust certain diagnosis rights to nurses and pharmacists. Most of the participants expressed negative opinions on the standardized guide for medical treatments. One of the suggestions was that the Korean Medical Association should make its own internal guide rather than regulating it by law.
Finally, the forum ended with some arguments over whether regulations regarding similar medical practices should be added in the bill. Some argued that similar medical practices may cause problems, but it is still wrong for the bill to encompass the regulations. Others said that a more cautious approach is required to deal with such issues.