[THE FOUNTAIN] Medical Standards Are Needed

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[THE FOUNTAIN] Medical Standards Are Needed

Are the standards for determining proper medical treatment be the same in any country throughout the world? The answer is no. What is an ordinary prescription in one country may be considered problematic in a neighborhood nation. Treatment for an illness may vary among Western developed countries.

Intensive chemical cancer therapy is considered best in some countries, while other countries believe that it is cruel treatment that makes the patient suffer.

A person diagnosed with high blood pressure in the United States is considered normal in England. Vasodilators, which are widely used in France, are believed to have no effect in the United States. Many say that patients who have undergone operations in the United States would have not needed surgical procedures if they were in other countries. Germany is known for frequent appendicitis surgery. German doctors prescribe heart medicines six to seven times more than British doctors, but they use antibiotics sparingly. French doctors prescribe suppositories seven times more than U.S. doctors do.

The physical constitution of Western people should not vary so much, so the differences in medical treatment give rise to some suspicions.

Even within a country, medical treatment varies according to the patient. According to Swiss statistics, patients who are not related to doctors go under the scalpel more than those who are physicians' relatives. Unrelated patients have 46 percent more tonsillectomies than relatives of doctors. The difference is even greater for other surgery, suggesting that doctors are more likely to operate on and receive fees from unrelated persons. Is the level of medical treatment and doctors' consciences higher in Korea than in Western developed countries?

According to the WHO's "World Health Report 2000," the level of medical treatment in Korea ranked 58th worldwide. The rate of Caesarean section deliveries was 43 percent, tops in the world, while clinics in Korea have 4.7 magnetic resonance imagers per 100 patients, ranking third.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it will step up the evaluation of medical examination and treatment covered by health insurance starting March 15. If hospitals overprescribe medicines, higher than the government standard, the excess amount will not be reimbursed, and expenses for inappropriate treatments and prescriptions will not be covered by health insurance.

The intention is good, but is it not necessary to establish a standard medical treatment system, as in the United States, in order to enforce a standardized medical service? After establishing such a system, doctors should question themselves. "Would I recommend this medical treatment to my family?"

by Cho Hyun-wook

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