The Korean National Assembly, recently, passed a law that will create a state agency with the authority to control arbitration of medical malpractice cases in Korea.
The facial thrust of the new law is to reduce the cost and time of resolving Korean medical malpractice cases. My Irish pessimism leads me to believe that this is more of a tool for doctors to avoid the shame and time associated with criminal and civil complaints. However, many claim that the make-up of the agency will favor patients.
I assume, in most cases, those with informed attorneys will likely opt to and resolve their dispute with a Korean doctor through criminal and civil complaints and forego this arbitration procedure.
Yonhap news has noted a few troublesome aspects of the new law.
It is very welcoming that patients will be able to get compensation for their damages from medical treatments quickly and easily. There are, however, a number of problems in the law that should be contemplated.
One major point is that the law lacks a provision that obliges doctors to prove they were not responsible for medical accidents. Because the patients have no professional medical knowledge it is difficult for them to prove the doctor was at fault, and naturally, they can be at a disadvantage in the course of arbitration.
Another point that should be reconsidered is the provision that the state arbitration agency should compensate patients for medical accidents that are judged to have occurred beyond human control.
There is criticism that it is not reasonable to use the money of unrelated taxpayers to settle conflicts that are between the patients and doctors.
A former judge, at my firm, who formerly lead a court solely handling medical malpractice cases is very interested in seeing how this system will function in reality. We are handling a number of medical malpractice cases for foreigners in Seoul courts.
A present, only a handful of attorneys are actually capable of handling medical malpractice cases. This reality is often leading doctors to avoid liability for actions that would be clearly negligent abroad. This system may provide a viable option, only, for those without access to a quality attorney or those with injuries that do not justify hiring an attorney.
Only hire an attorney that has handled a significant number of medical malpractice cases and preferably an attorney that has practiced as a judge.
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