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[Freedom Voice] Doctors, pledge for freedom, not strike meetings!

프리덤인턴 | 2014.05.14 18:40 | 조회: 530 | 덧글보기(0)
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Is it possible to do wrong even when you are right? That’s the situation Korean doctors are in now. They have been threatening to launch full-scale strikes, as they did during 1999-2000.


They are certainly entitled to go on strike, as they battle with the government over policy. However, they are putting patients in danger by going on strike.


Doctors do make some solid points. One, the amount that they are legally allowed to charge does not cover the cost of providing treatment. Two, many lose money because of government price controls. To avoid losing money, doctors must often work overtime and treat more patients in order to avoid losing money. It is indeed a system that is problematic.


However, their patients are also suffering from the government’s price controls. As doctors fall into the tempting cycle of over-treating patients, patients in turn are being jeopardized by unnecessary diagnoses and risky operations. What is an even more serious problem is that the department of internal medicine, surgical department, gynecology wards, and other such departments that often deal with life-or-death situations are being discarded for other, less critical practices of medicine.


While some are dying of heart disease or in critical condition while giving birth, doctors are increasingly choosing to work in cosmetic surgery or dermatology, creating dire need for more real doctors to save lives. In order to fix this, we need the universal health care providers to step up and take lead. If you want medical welfare then you must collect the necessary funds through taxation. If you will not tax, you must give up on this social welfare. Squeezing such funds from the doctors is unethical. It is not sustainable.


In spite of these circumstances, the method must be a legitimate and legal one. If we continue in the current way, those being affected and suffering will resort to collectivized action and fill the streets with protests.


The Republic of Korea is a constitutional state. Though there may be injustice or dissatisfaction with the current way of things, we must use proper procedure to fix this problem. I urge you to recall the video equipment fee litigation incident in which the doctors emerged victorious. Likewise, you should petition for a change (constitutionally) in this wrongful system of unjust intervention by public officials into the medical sector. If not for this method, there are many other methods you can harness. Perhaps you are regressing back to using primitive methods after having lost (just once) at a trial regarding universal health insurance.


Further, I understand that it is difficult and a tedious, long process but in any case you must ultimately convince people. Lobbying against public officials and National Assembly members would do no good. Those Assembly members and public officials that most citizens do not embrace will probably not do a thing about it. The counterproductive intervention by the government and its ills in hospitals must be explained in a manner so that even country-side grandmothers can understand and be convinced.


So even though doctors make many great points, I cannot understand the opposing stance against tele-medical consultation and for-profit hospitals that appear to be the pretext these days. Public officials are attempting to do the doctors a favor by broadening the scope of medical treatments they can partake in for their benefit and yet the doctors are pleading for a continuation of the old system. Why, you ask? Think about the medical consultation issue for example. Currently, no doctor can give tele-medical consultation. The act is being withheld as some believe it can lead to medical accidents. However, doctors would only give consultation they are confident about as they would become liable otherwise. Refusing these doctors the freedom to use their abilities and knowledge is like clinging to their hind legs to prevent them from moving. Opposing tele-medical consultation in fear that local hospitals would lose patients is none other than an act to make sure opponents of the cause will be able to keep (just) their own food on their tables.


The issue of private hospitals is no different. Isn’t it the case that all doctors are engaging in profit-making? Receiving payment is an act of making profit. Doctors who are resorting to overtreatment are committing worse acts of profit-making. If you think about it, those who are opposing profit-making hospitals are not actually criticizing the profit-making itself, but the open-investment hospitals. I can see the underlying reason for why there are such opponents, despite the fact that these hospitals would provide many new opportunities for doctors. They oppose fearfully because competition arising from these open-investment hospitals would reduce medical fees (in turn maybe lower treatment quality). Why are they stemming the innovation of other doctors?


If private hospitals are assented, there is a rumor that the appendix surgery will increase by 10 million won. If this is true, it would provide a golden opportunity for those “virtuous” doctors opposing private hospitals. No patient would ever go to a private hospital that charges 10 million won for an appendix surgery. Doctors who want to charge less could prove they aren’t greedy by charging less.


Doctors opposing private hospitals are maddened about the freedom that is being given to them even though those who do not want to participate in those hospitals can merely stay out of such matters. I cannot understand doctors who are stubbornly protesting to keep a system that is already socialized.


The dilemma of our nation’s medical situation lies in the reality that universal health care is being striven for at the expense and sacrifice of the doctors and that public officials are intervening in every move of medical practitioners in their medical treatments. I urge you to tackle this situation and face it headstrong. I urge a protest against public officials and their hands on the medical treatment ongoing in our society. And you must persuade the nation. It will be difficult but that is the right method.


Even if you do succeed through this protest, there is not much to gain. Tele-consulting will continue to be banned. And while Korean patients will go abroad to Shanghai and Bankok to get their heart surgeries, Korean doctors will be at their wits end, having to enter the cosmetic surgery departments or dermatology. The subjugation of doctors at the hands of public officials will continue. Is that what you want?


What’s a better way? Freedom. Inform citizens about the harmful meddling of public oficials in medical affairs. Stop overtreating patients. Persuade, not strike. That is the right method of protest. This is a problem you can never hope to solve -even if you take to the streets, holding patients hostage- if you oppose tele-consultation and private hospitals.


Kim Chung-Ho is the CEO and founder of Freedom Factory Co. Ltd., in Seoul, South Korea. Freedomfactory.co.kr

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