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Health ministry seeks to mandate surveillance cameras in operating rooms

Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae speaks during a press conference held at Government Complex Sejong, Thursday. Courtesy of Ministry of Health and Welfare
Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae speaks during a press conference held at Government Complex Sejong, Thursday. Courtesy of Ministry of Health and Welfare

By Lee Hyo-jin

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is seeking to obligate hospitals to install surveillance cameras in operating rooms in an effort to prevent medical malpractice, according to Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae, Thursday.

"We feel sorry for the victims (of medical malpractice) and thus view that relevant measures should be improved. Bills mandating cameras in operating rooms are currently being discussed at the National Assembly," Kang said during a press conference held at Government Complex Sejong.

Kang noted that the ministry has been gathering opinions on the issue, but views among patients' groups and the doctors' association remain sharply divided.

While the patients' groups have been calling for surveillance cameras in a bid to prevent physicians' ethical misconduct such as "ghost surgeries" conducted by unqualified hospital staff, doctors have been strongly opposing it, arguing that the cameras would lead physicians to perform passive medical procedures to avoid being involved in possible lawsuits.

Kang told reporters that the ministry will seek to narrow the divided opinions, while coming up with a legal basis to protect the privacy of patients and doctors once the cameras are installed.

Regarding the COVID-19 situation in Korea, the vice minister said the government is going all out to overcome the pandemic as early as possible through the smooth introduction of vaccines developed by global pharmaceutical companies as well as support for the domestic development of vaccines and treatments.

He also said the government is planning to introduce a revised version of the social distancing scheme in July, which will be based on autonomy and responsibility rather than unilateral gathering bans and one-size-fits-all measures.

When asked about Seoul City's decision to introduce its own antivirus measures which came earlier in the day, Kang said, "Outcomes of the Seoul Metropolitan Government's antivirus measures will be also taken into account in devising the new social distancing scheme."

As a part of its own social distancing scheme, Seoul City announced a one-month trial period during which indoor gyms and golf driving ranges in two districts of the city will be allowed to extend their business hours by two hours from closing by 10 p.m. to midnight.



이효진 lhj@koreatimes.co.kr


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