On September 8, 2016, Kwon Dae-hee – a college student – went under the knife to “get his jaws fixed.” He had seen an advertisement for a plastic surgery center in Seoul called Center A, and was determined to sharpen the jawbone.
His mother says Kwon, then 25, was bullied in high school for his prominent chin, an experience that left him determined to undergo the $ 5,600 (£ 4,000) cosmetic surgery.
“14 years of activity without a single medical accident”, we read in an advertisement from Center A.
Shortly after the operation, however, Kwon fell into a coma for 49 days. He had lost more than 3.5 liters of blood and died of excessive bleeding on October 6, 2016.
Korean lawmakers voted in favor of installing CCTV cameras in operating rooms in hospitals across the country on Tuesday, after a campaign largely inspired by Kwon’s death.
Lee Na-geum, the devastated mother of the 61-year-old student, has been organizing a one-person protest outside the country’s parliament since January 2018.
After Kwon’s death, Ms. Lee obtained the CCTV footage of the operation and analyzed them, as she claimed, “thousands of times.” She told Reuters she was able to prove that the operation was performed, in part, by an unqualified nursing assistant and intern, and not by the plastic surgeon as promised.
Ms Lee sued Center A and the chief surgeon using video evidence she had gathered since her son’s death. A court found the surgeon guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to three years in prison.
“It is a medical crime when someone else – ‘a ghost’ – performs the operation and not the hired surgeon without the patient’s consent,” she said.
“There are so many unhappy bereaved families who cannot reveal the truth because they do not have physical evidence when a healthy person dies in an operating room.”
The case rose to prominence in the wake of Ms. Lee’s protest and intensified pressure for CCTV cameras to be installed in all operating rooms in South Korean hospitals. Several similar accusations of unqualified personnel performing surgeries have surfaced over the years.
The adoption of the new law in Parliament on Tuesday comes despite strong reluctance from the country’s medical fraternity.
The bill was categorically rejected by doctors, hospitals and several medical groups nationwide, including the Korean Medical Association (KMA), which has 140,000 members, which says the move will violate patient privacy and discourage doctors take risks to save lives.
“We believe that trust is essential in a doctor-patient relationship … the bill prevents doctors from actively recommending treatment methods and treating patients,” KMA spokesperson Park said. Soo-hyun.
“Residents have already expressed their intention not to apply for surgery or surgical services if video surveillance is installed in operating rooms, which will lead to the collapse of a vital part of South Korea’s medical care “, she added.
At the same time, South Korea’s plastic surgery industry is worth $ 10.7 billion (over £ 7.7 billion). Campaigners point to weak regulations allowing the use of “ghost doctors” in factory-like clinics, where unskilled staff replace large-scale surgeons.
And the law appears to have overwhelming public support. In a June poll by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, an independent government body, the bill received the support of 97.9 percent of 13,959 people polled.
South Koreans are generally more accustomed to video surveillance as a reality. According to statistics portal Statista, nearly 1.15 million CCTV cameras were in service nationwide in 2019. “This is an increase of around 200% from five years ago.” , did he declare.
Additional Reuters Reports
The Independent Gt