Patient’s threat to kill trainee doctor revealed belatedly

Choi Gwang-seok  Published 2019.01.11  11:38  Updated 2019.01.11 11:38


Just four days before a patient killed psychiatrist Lim Se-won at a hospital in Seoul, a patient threatened to murder a trainee physician at Gyeongsang National University Hospital (GNUH) in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province.

The hospital lost contact with the trainee doctor, and he has not come to work since the incidence, an official at GNUH said.

According to the hospital, the incident occurred at the internal medicine department on Dec. 27.

The patient, who was hospitalized at a ward in the internal medicine department, demanded the trainee doctor revise the statement on his disability in a way the patient wanted and interfered with medical staffs’ work.

The doctor refused to write a false statement several times.

Then, the patient wielded a knife and a scissor against the doctor, saying he would “kill him, slit his throat, and cut open his belly.”

The hospital immediately calmed the patient and confiscated the weapons according to the manual. However, it did not report the case to the police.

The patient, however, continued to threaten the doctor using verbal violence. The hospital reported the case to the police to protect the physician and discharged the patient on Dec. 29 based on discharge procedures.

The trainee physician has not come to work without any contact with the hospital since Dec. 28.

With the fact revealed that the patient stayed at a multi-bedroom with other patients for two days, the hospital came under criticism that it did not adequately protect other patients from possible violence.

“The head nurse at the ward met each patient in the room to seek their understanding about the situation and promised them to move them if they wanted,” the hospital said. “But all of the patients in the multi-bedroom said they would stay.”

The hospital said in a statement that it was regretful that the violence case occurred against medical staffs who were working day and night to fulfill their duties.

As the government and the National Assembly are working to protect physicians better, the hospital will make sure all employees are familiar with related manuals so that physicians can concentrate on providing medical care, GNUH said.

However, the Korean Medical Association said GNUH could have responded to the incidence better.

“Although we have limitations in the law and the system to coerce a patient to be discharged, the hospital’s response is regretful,” a KMA official said.

“Because the hospital failed to protect the trainee physician who went through a frightening situation, he chose to protect himself. The hospital should have moved other patients in the multi-bedroom immediately, rather than asking them if they wanted to move,” he added.

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