S.Korea makes CCTV during surgery mandatory

South Korean lawmakers voted on Tuesday (August 31) for hospitals to put surveillance cameras in operating rooms.

The bill makes it the first developed country to require closed-circuit cameras to record surgical procedures.

And comes after a series of medical accidents involving unqualified staff standing in for surgeons.

One of those cases involved university student Kwon Dae-hee.

He died of a hemorrhage in Seoul in October 2016 after 49 days in a coma as a result of jawline surgery.

His mother, Lee Na-geum, obtained CCTV footage of her son's procedure.

She said she watched the seven-and-a-half hours of footage more than 1,000 times.

And was able to prove that it was performed in part by an unqualified nursing assistant and an intern doctor, and not by the chief plastic surgeon as promised.

"There are so many unfortunate bereaved families who cannot reveal the truth because they don't have physical evidence when a healthy person dies in an operating room. I hope that the truth can be revealed to the bereaved families through CCTV footage and there will be no more wrongful deaths."

With the video evidence she collected, Lee sued the hospital and head surgeon. He was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison.

Multiple attempts have been made to amend the Medical Services Act to require surveillance cameras.

But they've been stopped by lobbying doctors.

The Korean Medical Association or KMA has 140,000 members. It claims video-monitoring will undermine trust in doctors and violate patient privacy.

Park Soo-hyun, a KMA spokeswoman, says it also discourages future doctors:

"Residents have already expressed their intent not to apply to surgery or surgical departments if the CCTVs are installed in operating rooms, which will lead to a collapse of an essential part of South Korea's medical care."

But some doctors, like plastic surgeon Kim Seon-woong think it could help:

"As a doctor, I think it is time that South Korea needs CCTV in the operating room. I believe the CCTV in an operating room can prevent crimes such as ghost surgery, unauthorized organ harvest, sexual assault, and quite a few medical accidents in absurd situations."

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