Four Babies Die within Two Hours of Each Other at Ewa Hospital in Seoul

It will be interesting to see if this was just some kind of sad coincidence or whether some kind of bacteria or mechanical function of the equipment used for pre-mature babies is to blame:

Chung Hye-won, director of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ewha Womans University Medical Center in western Seoul, apologizes in a press briefing at the hospital on Sunday for the deaths of four newborn babies at the hospital on Saturday night. [YONHAP]

Four newborn babies died within a two-hour span at Ewha Womans University Medical Center in Seoul on Saturday night. Authorities are investigating the cause.“We apologize to the relatives of the babies and to everyone in this country,” said Chung Hye-won, director of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the hospital, in a press briefing at the hospital on Sunday. “Four babies being treated at the intensive care unit for the newborns at the hospital suffered sudden cardiac arrest at differing times, starting from around 5:40 p.m. on Saturday.

“We tried to revive the babies through CPR but could not,” she said. “The hospital is working with public health centers and authorities to find out the cause of their deaths. We apologize again to the relatives for this unfortunate and rare incident and promise to do our best to find out the cause behind it.”

Authorities requested the National Forensic Service conduct autopsies on the four dead infants to find out the cause of their deaths. The autopsies are scheduled to be held Monday morning.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but regardless of the cause it is a very sad day and condolences to all the parents involved.

Korean Hospital Under Fire for Making Nurses Perform Sexy Dances for High Ranking Officials

This is absolutely ridiculous that nurses had to subject to this.  I wonder how prevalent this exploitation of nurses is in South Korea’s hospitals?:

Nurses are up in arms over allegations that their colleagues at the Sacred Heart Hospital at Hallym University were forced to perform a “sexy dance” at an internal event.

The Korean Nurses Association vented its fury on Monday, calling for a thorough investigation and merciless punishment of those responsible.

“This is a grave challenge to the vocation and self-esteem of nurses,” the association said in a statement.

“There are numerous nurses who endure an intense workload, low paycheck and frequent overtime with their sense of duty and vocation.

“Considering this, the scandal was defamatory and offensive to these nurses.”

The association urged the government to tighten regulations to prevent sexual offenses against nurses and to protect their human rights.

The scandal flared up last week after a nurse posted a letter of complaint on social media with photos of nurses in short pants and figure-hugging tube tops performing a sexually suggestive dance during an annual sports event in October.

“Those forced to dance are usually the newly hired nurses, who are unable to refuse such orders,” the whistle-blowing nurse wrote on social media on Friday.

“We were forced to dance in front of high-ranking officials of the firm, who sat side-by-side at a long table.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

End of Life Bill Passes In South Korea

Korea is the latest country to allow terminally ill patients to end treatment if they so desire:

rok flag

The National Assembly on Friday passed the Death with Dignity Act, which allows certain life-sustaining medical treatments for terminally ill patients to be stopped. The act will take effect in January 2018.

The National Assembly convened both the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and a plenary session on Friday to vote on the bill. At the plenary session, 202 out of 203 lawmakers attending approved the bill, with one abstaining.

It has taken 19 years for the act to pass.

The issue was first brought up in 1997, after a doctor at SMG-SNU Boramae Medical Center was indicted on a charge of abetting homicide after allowing a terminally ill patient to be discharged.

According to the act, terminally ill patients or their family can make the decision to end four life-sustaining medical treatments – cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hemodialysis, anti-cancer treatment and artificial respiration – if the patients have no chance of being cured or recovering. Doctors will not be punished if they stop these four life-sustaining medical treatments if patients or their families request they be stopped. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read the rest at the link.

Pyeongtaek’s St. Marys Hospital and Samsung Medical Center at the Center of MERS Outbreak

Here is an interesting chart that shows where the majority of the MERS infection are coming from in Korea:

A major worry about the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak is coming true: The disease is spreading to other regions as people who visited Samsung Medical Center move from Seoul not knowing that they’re infected.

Samsung, one of Korea’s biggest and best hospitals, accepts patients from every corner of the country. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is worrying about possible fourth-generation infections, although none have been reported.

The health authority announced nine more MERS cases on Tuesday, raising the total number of patients to 95, and reported one more fatality, Patient No. 47, the country’s seventh victim. Nine MERS patients, Patients No. 12, 23, 24, 28, 42, 58, 74, 81 and 83, are in critical condition.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read the rest at the link, but it looks like the infections are happening in the emergency rooms.  The lesson learned would appear to be to stay away from emergency rooms until this outbreak gets contained.

USFK Warns Servicemembers To Stay Away From Korean Hospitals Due to MERS Outbreak

This is probably a good idea considering that all of the transmissions of the MERS virus has occurred in Korean hospitals:

U.S. Forces Korea is recommending that troops and civilians avoid South Korean hospitals as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome continues to spread across the peninsula.

USFK is also recommending that members of the military community who have been seen since May 15 at any of two dozen South Korean hospitals affected by the potentially deadly virus call their health clinic for a phone evaluation and guidance.

Those who have been treated at other hospitals and are displaying MERS symptoms – fever, cough or shortness of breath – should contact their military medical care provider.

The South Korean government on Sunday listed hospitals that have treated MERS patients, all of whom have contracted the disease in hospitals.

No U.S. troops or USFK civilians have been diagnosed with MERS.

As of Monday morning, 87 people in South Korea had been infected with MERS, including the first teen to contract the disease on the peninsula, and six patients have died, South Korea’s Yonhap News reported.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.  By the way here is a complete list of the hospitals in Korea that the government announced had cases of MERS:

MERS affected hospitals

Samsung Seoul Medical Center (ER)

365 Seoul Yeolin Hospital (Outpatient Clinic)

Pyeongtaek St. Mary’s Hospital

ChoongNam Asan City Asan Seoul Hospital (Outpatient Clinic)

Daejeon Seogu DaeCheong Hospital

Seogu GeonYang University Hospital (ER, 10th Floor)

Seoul Asan Hospital

Seoul Asan Medical Center (ER)

Yoido St. Mary’s Hospital (ER)

Hanaro Clinic

Yoon Chang Ok internal Medicine Clinic

Pyeongtaek Good Morning Hospital

Pyeongtaek Pooren Hospital

Pyeongtaek 365 Yonhap Clinic

Pyeongtaek Park Ae Clinic

Pyeongtaek Yonsei Hub Family Medicine

Dongtan Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital

St. Vincent Hospital (ER)

Medihalls Clinic (Outpatient Clinic)

Bucheon St. Mary’s Hospita21 Gunpo City St. Mary’s Family Medicine Clinic

Osan Hanguk Hospital

CheonAn Danguk University Hospital

Daecheon 365 Yonhap Clinic (Outpatient Clinic)

Soonchang Choi Seonyeong Internal Medicine Clinic (Outpatient Clinic)

It appears most of the hospitals are in the areas of southern Seoul and the Pyeongtaek area.  So people living in those areas should be a little bit more vigilant in regards to washing their hands and going to public places until this outbreak is contained.

Korean Government Releases Names of MERS Infected Hospitals

It is about time that the government released the names of the MERS infected hospitals so that the public can make a choice on whether they want to go to that hospital or not:

South Korea identified all 24 hospitals affected by the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Sunday, saying it wanted to ensure the public’s safety with transparent information.

Acting Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan disclosed the names of the hospitals at a press conference. The government had earlier identified Pyeongtaek St. Mary’s Hospital, in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, where the first MERS case was confirmed, and Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, one of whose doctors has been diagnosed with MERS and apparently contacted over 1,500 people.

The full list included five more hospitals in Pyeongtaek and five more in the nation’s capital.

“We’re disclosing the hospitals where patients have been diagnosed with MERS, so that we can ensure the people’s safety,” Choi said. “MERS has been spreading across these hospitals, and it forces us to impose strict control on them. Hospitals with confirmed MERS cases in the future will be identified as well.”

The government had been under fire for its refusal to share the names of affected hospitals. It’d reasoned that it didn’t want to generate unnecessary fear, though critics said the government had been doing just that by withholding the information.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I am assuming the Korean government was slow to give out this information for fear of causing overcrowding at other hospitals by people avoiding these hospitals.  Regardless until the MERS is under control it may be a good thing that the public avoids these hospitals.