Posted on 01/30/2023 16:19Modified on 01/30/2023 16:19


Emergency cardiovascular surgery became impossible in the Yeongdong region

Professor Jang-Whan Bae of Cardiology Department at Chungbuk National University Hospital.

- Exempt from overnight duty for only over 60 years of age
- Rapidly reducing of the cardiologists

[관련기사=2023년 1월 16일 영동 지역 심혈관 응급시술 불가, 환갑 넘어야 당직 면제 ...씨 마르는 심장내과 의사들]

It has been pointed out that measures are urgently needed since the number of specialists on coronary artery disease intervention are declining rapidly.  

The Korean Society of Interventional Cardiology has appealed to the government for support that the specialists of cardiovascular intervention are drying up at the press conference on the 14th, Shilla Hotel in Seoul.

About 550 internal medicine specialists are produced each year in Korea according to the society. However, those who want to major in cardiology have fallen steadily, and the number of fellows has decreased to 49 as of 2022, and only about half of those who want to be specialists of cardiovascular intervention among them. This situation is getting more serious due to the overlapping with retirement of the first generation cardiovascular intervention specialists in Korea.

The Society has pointed out as follows “Even now, it can be felt that the number of cardiovascular intervention specialists are relatively small. Unless measures are taken to secure the specialists through support for the medical charge, etc. emergency surgery of cardiac infarction may not be possible in many regions in the near future.”

In the case of the Yeongdong region, the concerns like this have already turned into a reality. This is because emergency surgery became impossible as four cardiologists resigned from the high-level general hospital which was the only one in charge of cardiovascular emergency surgery. 

The society explained that the main reasons for the shortage of cardiovascular intervention specialists are heavy workload and the risk of medical malpractice suits.

“There is a joke going around among cardiologists that when they are over 60 years old, they will be exempted from overnight duty. Despite the cerebral cardiovascular disease center of Chungbuk National University Hospital being able to ensure the medical manpower at that, only four cardiologists are on overnight duty for 90 days a year.  Even the next day after being on overnight duty they have to do medical practices and scheduled surgeries. As this happens over and over again, the youngest professor among cardiologists in this center is currently 48 years old.” The society voiced its complaints.  

In addition, the society added that the most cardiovascular intervention specialists already have been sued or also have high risk of being involved in medical malpractice suits. The irrational system of medical insurance cost standard is an aggravating factor for this situation.

“The healthcare system in Korea defines a coronary artery is as two strands but in the case of the US, it defines as five strands and gives medical insurance cost according to this. There is an urgent need to normalize the medical treatment cost for additional surgical procedures. From the  hospital's standpoint, the more surgical procedures are enforced, they avoid investments in medical manpower support since it will make the hospital go into the red. The remaining medical human workforce are leaving from university hospitals to secondary hospitals or private clinics since they suffer from a heavy workload.” The society said. 

by Min-sik Park

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