Patients Suffer Pain and Distress in Absence of Doctors

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Patients Suffer Pain and Distress in Absence of Doctors

The general medical strike, which has been in effect since August 11, has resulted in two disparate scenarios. As hospital staff notify patients that their appointments have been canceled, outpatient rooms have been consequently quiet. Emergency rooms, however, are extremely crowded all day. Doctors see only those patients who are unaware of the cancellation of their appointments. Doctors usually are not treating patients, they are only writing prescriptions.

Cho Gui-soon, a 74 year-old diabetic woman, went to S Hospital to get a prescription, but she was turned away. The prior week, she had undergone testing at this same hospital. She was expecting to receive medication within a few days, but hospital staff called her with the news that her appointment had been postponed until September. Ms. Cho was told that patients without existing prescriptions cannot receive new ones.

"The drugstores near my home are also shut down,” said Ms. Cho as she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief. “Do they really want me to die or something?"

A Mrs. Shin is also frustrated. Her elderly mother-in-law has thyroid cancer, and has been kept on a bed in a hallway next to the emergency room for six days because the emergency ward is constantly full. "It is appalling that they do not admit my mother-in-law when there are so many empty wards," said Mrs. Shin. Her mother-in-law’s cancer has already spread to the brain. "It‘s agonizing to see her in such pain," she said in tears.

The outpatients who are given prescriptions feel worried too. A woman, identified only as Ju, came to a hospital to get medicine for her husband who is hypertensive. "It’s good that I can at least get some drugs,” she said. “I am not sure, though, if it’s good for my husband to take the same medication as that of two months ago without having an examination to check for changes in his condition."

A radiologist named Kim sympathized with the patients: "Though I understand the doctors' stance, I cannot support the strike this time. I feel so sorry for the patients in pain."

The question now is how many more patients and their families will suffer before the doctors return to their posts and resume their duties. Doctors should not forget their patients in pain who are fighting to overcome their diseases, hoping at every moment that the doctors will end this disastrous strike.

by Park Hyun-young

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