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False medical bills to result in license cancellation

Posted April. 08, 2001 18:11,   


Medical practitioners sentenced to imprisonment or other penalties may face cancellation of their doctor`s licenses.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Sunday decided to revise the medical law to punish doctors who make out false medical bills and request excessive payments from insurance funds. Inclusion of provisions for penalizing practitioners who pad their bills with ``ghost patients`` or increase the length of hospitalization and treatment is intended to ostracize them from the medical community.

The government is seeking to present the amendment bill before the regular session of the National Assembly this fall, with a view to introducing the harsher punishments next year. In the meantime, it plans to work together with the judicial branch to make it possible to cancel doctors` licenses on charges of forging private documents when they demand unreasonable expenses. So far, most doctors who tampered with their bills were convicted on fraud charges, which entailed imprisonment of fewer than ten years or fines of less than 20 million won. They did not lose their medical licenses.

The existing medical law stipulates in Article 8 (causes of disqualification) and Article 52 (cancellation and renewal of license) that a doctor is to lose his or her license once they are sentenced to imprisonment on the following charges under the criminal code or laws related to health and medical care: Writing a false prescription, forgery of a private document and its use, performance of an abortion, leaking professional secrets or performing sex tests of a fetus for illegitimate purposes.

Keeping a false clinical record would subject the offending doctor to a suspension of three months instead of the current one month, according to the health ministry. The ministry is determined to clean up the medical community by tightening punitive actions against violators.

Song Sang-Keun songmoon@donga.com