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[Column] Patient stabbed doctor to death -- things can’t just go on like thisDr. Song's medbiz column
  • By Song Hyoung-gon
  • Published 2019.01.03 14:58
  • Updated 2019.01.03 14:58
  • comments 0

Lim Se-won, a psychiatrist at Kanguk Samsung Hospital, died after a patient stabbed him on Monday.

News reports said the outpatient surnamed by Park, 30, was suffering a bipolar disorder. Park prepared a sharp weapon and wielded it against Lim during a consultation. The psychiatrist ran away, but the patient chased him and stabbed him several times in the chest. The doctor was taken to the emergency room immediately, received urgent care, but died at around 7:30 p.m.

Physicians call a wound by a knife, “a pierced wound.” Most of the multiple stabs accompany a hypovolemic shock, which is likely to cause death.

When a patient with multiple stabs comes to the emergency room, physicians should first stop the bleeding, and at the same time, make sure a large amount of blood transfusion supplements the lost blood. However, in the case of direct damage to large blood vessels such as the aorta and the heart, these treatments are often meaningless.

In the case of Lim, the incidence occurred at 5:44 p.m. and he died at around 7:30 p.m. The fact that it took less than two hours for Lim to die indicates that the damage was so fatal that no treatment would have saved his life.

Recently, there have been many news reports about a patient attacking a doctor during a medical examination. Most of them were about drunkards acting non-sense in emergency rooms, and their violence was not severe enough to cost a life.

However, the latest case is different. The attack led the doctor to die. What’s more serious is that the outpatient chased the doctor to murder him during work hours and that it happened at a famous university hospital, not a small one. In short, a doctor who was seeing a patient at a renowned university hospital equipped with firm security personnel was stabbed by the patient, in broad daylight.

For several years at a medical school before becoming a doctor, and during medical training after becoming a doctor, physicians learn that the best value a physician should pursue is respect for humanity and life.

Sadly, a doctor who should protect life was killed by his patient, not by a robber or an enemy. This is a serious issue.

I am convinced that there will be no doctors working in private clinics, tertiary hospitals and emergency rooms who believe that the Lim’s death was someone else’s story. I wonder how many doctors will risk their own lives to see a patient.

Under a circumstance where physicians get cursed, beaten, kicked, and even stabbed, other medical issues -- such as low reimbursements, the so-called “Moon Jae-in Care” expanding national health coverage, and integration of Oriental medicine -- are rather trivial.

We must not let things go on like this. Doctors are not soldiers, who risk their lives to protect their country at a battle against enemies. It is non-sense that physicians should see patients making their lives vulnerable to patients’ possible attacks.

We need a change. The medical community should put all efforts into securing safety in patient care. They could make a law to install a metal detector at the entrance of a hospital or place security guards at every doctor’s room. Physicians should refuse to see patients unless they have a safe medical environment.

Dear Professor Lim Se-won, I heard you chose psychiatry over thoracic surgery blaming your “dull” hands. Your dedication and enthusiasm for patients will remain in the hearts of many junior doctors and patients.

Rest in Peace.


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