The country's first trauma center is expected to be built by 2015 to treat patients with severe external injuries, the defense ministry said Friday.
Under the plan, the ministry and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital will jointly operate the center to be built inside the Armed Forces Medical Command in Seongnam, just south of Seoul.
The center is expected to be equipped with 160 beds and treat both military and civilian patients, the ministry said.
"Officials from the defense ministry, the health ministry, Seoul National University's college of medicine and the Bundang hospital are in talks over the construction of the trauma center," said a government official, who declined to be named.
The need for trauma centers was first raised in 2011 following criticism that the country lacked medical staff and facilities to treat a skipper who had sustained serious gunshot wounds during a naval rescue operation on his ship. The chemical carrier had been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea.
In 2010, the death rate among patients with severe external injuries was 35.2 percent, much higher than the average rate of less than 20 percent in advanced countries, the official said.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said it also plans to open trauma centers in 17 existing hospitals nationwide.