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J Korean Med Assoc > Volume 62(9); 2019 > Article
Journal of the Korean Medical Association 2019;62(9):468-470.
Published online September 19, 2019.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5124/jkma.2019.62.9.468   
Criminalization of medical error and medical regulatory authority
Ducksun Ahn
Research Institute for Healthcare Policy, Korea Medical Association, Seoul, Korea. dsahn@korea.ac.kr
This study aimed to suggest the justification for a self-regulatory body for medical licenses in Korea by reviewing recent cases of physician arrests for medical accidents in Korea. A number of recent cases of medical mistakes have been criminalized by courts in Korea, leading to widespread concern and fear throughout the healthcare community. Without a profession-led self-regulation system ever having been introduced in Korea, there is no alternative method for disciplining doctors other than through criminal tort law. It is expected that the volume of malpractice lawsuits will increase rapidly in Korea as the government ambitiously expands its plans for universal health coverage. Instead of facing criminal charges, however, doctors must put forth an effort to introduce a contemporary form of medical regulation, with more advanced disciplinary measures against substandard practice. The Korean Medical Association has undertaken the challenging mandate of establishing a new professional regulatory body to provide a tribunal and disciplinary system for the medical profession. It has proven difficult to persuade doctors of its purpose and value, as the majority do not yet fully grasp the very foreign concept of self-regulation. Moving forward, however, it will eventually become the responsibility of doctors to persuade society, lawmakers, government, and patient interest groups of the necessity and viability of self-regulation, which may also prove challenging. Despite these predictable challenges, it is imperative that Korean doctors solve the issue of creating a new, modern regulatory body capable of effective self-regulation and acceptable disciplinary measures, within the near future.
Key Words: Medical error, Self-regulation, Disciplinary measure, Regulatory body


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