J Korean Soc Emerg Med.  2007 Dec;18(6):598-608.

Survey of Emergency Medical Ethics in Korea

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Inje University College of Medicine, Pusan, Korea. ywked@inje.ac.kr


PURPOSE: Ethical problems are common in the emergency department (ED)- much more common than is usually recognized. However, the difficult ethical dilemmas and unique aspects of ethics in emergency medicine have not been thoroughly discussed in the context of Korean emergency medicine. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the degree of general recognition of emergency medical ethics, as well as attitude toward several difficult ethical dilemmas among emergency physicians.
This is a qualitative study by survey. By using a questionnaire, we surveyed on emergency physicians working in teaching- hospitals in Korea in August 2007.
The survey response rate was 30%, and there were 192 total respondents to the questionnaire. The results are as follows. Eighty-one percent of respondents said that they had trouble with difficult ethical dilemmas, 74% of respondents said that they need to be educated or trained to improve ethical decision-making capacity, and 58% of respondents said that they will use emergency ethical guideline actively if they are established. The ethical values that emergency physicians must possess, according to the survey responses, are agility, a sense of vocation, and prudence. With respect to questions about ending a patient's life, we found that emergency physicians have a tendency to ignore a patient's desires not to start CPR. Finally, in relation to colleagues and other professionals, many respondents said that they will take action to correct their medical errors.
Study and development of emergency medical ethics will be greatly helpful to many emergency physicians. Further study and discussion must be pursued in order to establish ethical guideline.


Ethics; Emergency Medicine; Medical Futility; Medical Errors

MeSH Terms

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Surveys and Questionnaires
Emergency Medicine
Emergency Service, Hospital
Ethics, Medical*
Medical Errors
Medical Futility
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