Doctor faces arrest for faking medical opinions

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Doctor faces arrest for faking medical opinions

The prosecution sought an arrest warrant with detention for a doctor at Severance Hospital who allegedly issued false medical opinions to help a 68-year-old woman delay her imprisonment. The woman had been convicted of murder; the doctor is also suspected of receiving payments for his role in the case.

The 54-year-old doctor, identified only by his surname, Park, allegedly issued medical opinions saying the woman’s breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes required hospitalization, citing symptoms that other doctors at the medical center said were not severe enough to delay her incarceration. Ten diagnosis letters, which reportedly said the woman should stay in the hospital, led to seven stays of execution of the sentence beginning in 2007.

Yoon Gil-ja, the convicted woman, was convicted of ordering her nephew to kill a 22-year-old student at Ewha Womans University in 2002. Yoon believed that her daughter’s husband had had an affair with the victim. She gave her nephew 175 million won ($157,850) for the murder, for which he was sentenced to life in 2004. Family members of the murdered woman and Yoon’s son-in-law denied that the two were romantically involved. The investigation into the doctor’s intervention began when the victim’s father began a campaign and filed a lawsuit in April.

A documentary that aired on SBS describing Dr. Park’s alleged role in keeping Yoon out of prison stimulated the controversy. After the lawsuit was filed, Yoon was imprisoned in May, and the order delaying the execution of her sentence was canceled. The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office also requested a detention warrant for Yoon’s ex-husband, Ryoo Won-gi, president of Youngnam Flour Mills Company, on charges of allegedly paying the Severance physician to issue the medical opinions.

Prosecutors said they have evidence proving the transfer of about 100 million won from Ryoo to Park from their bank accounts. Both the accused men deny the charges. The hospital and Yonsei University, which operates it, both said they take the issue seriously.

“The issue of falsified medical statements can lead to his dismissal from his position,” said an official at Severance Hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We will follow the law enforcement agency’s decision,” the representative said.

The Korean Medical Association, a group that represents doctors nationwide, asked its internal ethics committee to look into Park’s involvement in the case. The committee held a hearing last month, but the accused doctor didn’t appear.

“The fact that medical statements by Park are not consistent with those other doctors who jointly diagnosed [Yoon] probably means that he exaggerated her symptoms,” said Song Hyung-gon, a representative of the doctors’ association.

BY LEE JI-EUN [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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