Korean Law Demystified!

Physician’s Duty to Explain (in Korea)


In Korea, physicians have a legal obligation to obtain informed consent in order to perform any (intrusive) procedure. This means: a physician/surgeon must explain (to the patient) all things that can possibly go wrong. A news report about patients who successfully sued their (respective) plastic surgeons:

In principle, the patient bears the burden of proving that no explanation was given. In reality, however, Korean courts ask the hospital to prove that it was. Whether the (signed) consent form was accompanied by enough info becomes critical.

Additional Explanation: When suing only for psychological pain & suffering, the question is simply whether the physician fully explained or not. When suing for pecuniary damages as well (e.g., lost wages…), causation (between the breach of duty and the result) becomes critical. Also, that breach of duty (i.e., failure to fully explain) has to generally be more egregious.

Recently here in Korea, it was revealed that university hospitals (in Seoul) were allowing “surrogate surgeons” to operate on patients. (This was especially shocking because many people choose university hospitals to be told the truth.) In response, the Korean Fair Trade Commission offered a new standard consent form to be used in all hospitals. It aims to better clarify who actually went into the operating room + obligate written consent in case of any change (in surgeon). To learn more, click here.

Many people now want mandatory CCTVs in operating rooms.

Thanks for reading!

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