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National Assembly Mandates Installation of Surveillance Cameras in Hospital Rooms
Operating Room at Gyeonggi Provincial Medical Center Suwon Hospital (seoul.co.kr)

On August 31st this year, the National Assembly approved a bill that mandates the installation and operation of closed-circuit TV cameras in operating rooms. There have been growing calls for providing legislative protection to patients against medical malpractice or negligence after several controversies over “ghost operations” or sexual abuse of patients under anesthesia. The revision bill of the Medical Service Act requires recording medical procedures on video at the request of patients or their guardians, and medical institutions must keep them for longer than 30 days for future reference. However, the bill gives a few exceptions; doctors have a right to avoid the mandate under “valid reasons”, such as conducting a high-risk or emergency operation. Besides this, for privacy protection, the recordings are not available to watch unless related organizations request them in the event of a criminal investigation or legal dispute. Those who violate the mandate could be fined up to 5 million won, and those who abuse the data without allowed purposes could be imprisoned for up to five years or fined up to 50 million won. Although the bill allows a two-year grace period, it seems challenging to bridge the gap between doctors and lawmakers. The Korean Medical Association (KMA), the country’s largest doctors’ association with about 130,000 members, said in a press release, “Mandating the installation and operation of closed-circuit TV cameras in operation rooms is a bill that is wrong and will endanger the health and livelihood of the people.”

허유정  yjheo@g.skku.edu

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