The Korea Herald


Panel to judge medical disputes

By 배지숙

Published : March 11, 2011 - 20:36

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The government will establish a committee dedicated to verifying faults in medical accidents to help settle disputes under a law passed by the National Assembly on Friday.

The body will help citizens less knowledgeable of the sophisticated field confront their doctors with the help of a professional third party, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said, welcoming the passage of the medical arbitration law.

The committee consisting of two doctors, one lawyer, a prosecutor and a civic activist will review each reported medical dispute and verify the exact cause and liability of the accident. It will also mediate a settlement between doctors or hospitals and patients. Its report could also be used as evidence in trials.

“Currently, most self-claimed victims head straight to the court, wasting money and time,” Park In-seok, a ministry official, said. However, since the plaintiffs are entitled to verify the faults of the accused, very few patients have been able to legally prove them due to lack of knowledge.

“The committee will assist in finding the truth,” Park said.

The ministry explained that currently, a set of trials over medical dispute takes 26 months on average. The committee is expected to make a conclusion within five months. As of 2009, a total of 911 cases of medical suits were filed to local courts.

The law will take effect from next year. All patients and doctors, including foreign patients coming to Korea for treatments, will be subject to the new rules. Administrators hope the passage of the law will lead to getting foreign patients and their health insurers to stay in Korea.

By Bae Ji-sook (