The Korea Alliance of Patients Organizations (KAPO) Wednesday urged the government to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the alleged ghost surgeries at the National Medical Center (NMC).
“Recently, an NMC doctor who performed a neurosurgical operation with an unlicensed medical device company salesperson came to light,” the organization said in a statement. “The news gives greater disappointment to use because a doctor at the NMC, which was established by a special law and given the role of leading public healthcare in Korea, conducted such illegal acts.”
Korea Biomedical Review reported last Tuesday that a medical device salesman illegally assisted surgery at the NMC.
The patient group said it believes there is a high possibility that the NMC has conducted numerous neurosurgical surgeries with the assistance of an unlicensed medical device salesperson, and such practices may have been done by other medical institutions as well.
KAPO maintained the Ministry of Health and Welfare should investigate the situation promptly. If the allegations are right, the minister of health and welfare should actively take not just disciplinary measures but refer them to criminal prosecution, it added.
The patient group also called for the police to set up a task force to start a probe into the claim brought up by broadcaster SBS that clinics and hospitals have begun to delete CCTV images and records related to ghost surgeries.
It urged the Korean Medical Association (KMA) to agree to the installation of CCTVs in the operating room. The KMA had issued a statement apologizing for the controversy caused by a recent series of ghost surgeries on Monday.
Consumer and patient groups have asked the National Assembly and the ministry to take extraordinary measures to eradicate ghost surgery and illegal surrogate operations. However, it has not received any feedback, the group added.
KAPO demanded the government act as a guardian and advocate for patients and medical consumers who have no measures to protect them from medical institutions and doctors armed with expertise and monopoly.