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Medical professors cut back on clinical service and surgeries

Medical professors cut back on clinical service and surgeries

Posted April. 01, 2024 07:44,   

Updated April. 01, 2024 07:44


Medical professors will start working fewer hours in April, which will lead to more gaps in care at large hospitals. Patients are worried that surgeries and other procedures will be postponed, causing them to miss treatment.

The national emergency committee of medical college professors held a press conference on Saturday and announced that medical professors will adjust working hours from April. "We agreed in principle to take a daytime shift off the next day after working for 24 consecutive hours," said Bang Jae-seung, chair of the committee. "We voted to adjust outpatient and surgical services by training hospitals to maintain care for severe and emergency patients." The committee said the reduction in services is necessary to prevent accumulated fatigue among medical staff from jeopardizing patient safety.

However, the committee agreed to let individual professors decide whether to reduce services or not. "It is difficult to reduce working hours uniformly in departments with a lot of emergency and critical care surgeries," said a professor of surgery at Seoul National University Hospital. As a result, the working hour reductions are more likely to be centered on departments with relatively few emergency cases, particularly with outpatient services reduced. Earlier, Chungbuk National University Hospital decided to suspend running outpatient clinics every Friday starting in April. The emergency committees of Chonnam National University and Chosun University's medical school professors are also considering reducing their services to 52 hours a week until their resignations are accepted.

The conflict between hospital management and professors over reducing work hours is also growing. The National Council of Medical College Professors recently sent a letter to the heads of medical training hospitals asking them to keep resident doctors’ working hours to 52 hours a week. However, hospitals, which are losing more than 1 billion won (742,000 U.S. dollars) a day due to the departure of medical doctors on training (interns and residents), are asking the remaining medical staff to operate more operating rooms and not reduce outpatient services.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com