Korean court lets Eastern medicine practitioners read CT scans

Korean physicians are protesting a court decision that permits doctors of traditional Eastern medicine to create and interpret CT images, the Seoul-based newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported yesterday.  The recent decision widens the cultural divide between Eastern and Western traditions, and threatens to shatter the carefully defined boundaries that have separated the two approaches to healthcare.

"To rule that it's appropriate for an Eastern medicine doctor -- not a radiologist -- to interpret radiographs would pose a serious threat by leaving the health of the people in the hands of the unqualified," the Korean Medical Association told the newspaper. "... Let's use this chance to push medical unification that merges Western and Eastern medicine for the health of the citizens."

Not so fast, said traditional medicine practitioners represented by the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine. AKOM called the KMA statement an overreaction to the court ruling, adding that a merger of the disciplines is what it wanted all along. Combining the two medical approaches would give Western medicine a toehold in the lucrative market for acupuncture and other services that have been the exclusive domain of Eastern medicine in Korea, the newspaper reported.

The case originated in an Eastern medicine hospital in Seoul that was shut down by the Public Health Center of Seocho-gu because it had illegally used CT scans, according to the KMA statement.  The Seoul Administrative Court ruled that existing medical law did not forbid doctors of Eastern medicine from using CT scans to make diagnoses, and declared the shutdown illegal.

The KMA scoffed at suggestions that Eastern medicine practitioners might be qualified to read CT scans because their curriculum includes radiology courses, according to Chosun Ilbo.  "This is the same as saying you'll become an English teacher because you took an English class in college," the KMA said.

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers
December 23, 2004

Copyright © 2004 AuntMinnie.com

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