Korean Hospitals Causing Controversy


Wrongful demands from Korean hospitals have left helpless patients complaining about how they were treated. Some hospitals have even forced patients into certain treatments without adequately informing them about their situation.

A 41-year-old Korean woman, identified only by her last name Kim, was outraged after a recent visit to a clinic. Kim went to go see her gynecologist for treatment, but the doctor greeting her was not her designated physician.

“The man who showed up in a white gown was not my physician,” Kim said. “He started the treatment without any explanation and advised me to go see another doctor. I discovered later on that he was a nurse, not a doctor. I was extremely upset.”

It is widely known that nurse practitioners are qualified to conduct assessments on patients at the hospital. However, the hospital must first earn the patient’s approval if a nurse practitioner is conducting the assessment in a doctor’s absence.

“Nurse practitioners can assess and also prescribe medication,” said an anonymous industry source. “But they have to be mindful of the patients’ rights and fully respect them. Some Korean hospitals and clinics designate registered nurses and nurse practitioners as physicians for patients. This is obviously the wrong thing to do, especially if the situation has never been explained to the patient.”

Some hospitals are also demanding patients pay deposits prior to their first appointment.

“I showed my preferred provider organization insurance policy to the hospital when I went five years ago, but they insisted that I have to pay a $150 deposit,” said a 38-year-old former patient, only identified by his last name Lee. “They just told me that I wouldn’t be able to see the doctor unless I pay upfront. I was shocked that some hospitals were still demanding advanced payments.”

In another case, a 40-year-old woman, only identified by her last name Yoo, reported issues with a Koreatown-based cancer clinic.

“The doctor found a lump on my mother’s brain, but kept forcing us to go through the treatment without a proper diagnosis,” Yoo said. “My mother was obviously scared and went through a whole-brain radiotherapy 13 times without even knowing what the problem was. When we visited a different doctor, he said that radiotherapy is only the last resort. I feel like the hospital tried to take advantage of my mother by striking fear into her.”

The Korean American Medical Association told the Korea Daily that it will make an effort to alleviate conflicts by fixing the negative trends that seem to be prevalent among Korean hospitals in the U.S. “We advise all patients to report those hospitals immediately as we will mediate those troubles,” the group said.


By Hyoungjae Kim