South Korea is forcing surgeons to film their operations to prevent the sexual abuse of patients under anaesthetic and procedures being carried out by unqualified “ghost doctors”.
It follows cases in which patients suffered injury or died in some of the country’s numerous and poorly regulated cosmetic clinics when surgeons allowed inexperienced or unqualified colleagues to perform operations in their place. South Korea is the first developed country to impose a legal requirement on doctors to film procedures after parliament passed a law this week.
“It is a medical crime when someone else — ‘a ghost’ — performs the surgery, and not the surgeon hired, without [the] patient’s consent,” Lee Na-geum, whose son died in 2016, said. “There are so many unfortunate bereaved families who cannot expose the truth because they don’t have physical evidence when a healthy person dies in an operating room.” Her son, Kwon Dae-hee, a 24-year-old student, died after seven weeks in a coma following botched cosmetic surgery on his jaw at a clinic in Seoul.
CCTV obtained by Lee showed that although the doctor for whom he was paying began the operation, it was completed by a non-specialist who had only recently left medical school.
Her son began to haemorrhage as indifferent nurses applied make-up and looked at their phones. The head surgeon at the clinic, which has since closed, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and jailed for three years.
Kwon’s family were awarded damages of 430 million Korean won (£270,000) in 2019. Lee said: “I think many youngsters are still victimised by ghost surgeries at factory-like plastic surgery hospitals.”
The law was opposed by some doctors who feared it would compromise privacy and discourage specialists from making decisions in the interests of their patients. Others believe cameras will prevent abuse, including sexual assault.
SOURCE: Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor, The Times London
MEAG COMMENT: We have pushed for this for many years — written about it, spoken about it.