Is the “ghost surgery” the subject of legal punishment in Korea?

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4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Recently a controversy has arisen about so-called “ghost surgery” practices, and people have voiced their opinions for legal sanction against such practices, which clearly undermine the foundation of medical ethics. However, there has been a lack of legal basis for punishing those actions. The present study aims to examine which pre-existing legal provisions could be applied to regulate ghost surgery. Methods: The Korean Medical Service Act has a provision relating to informed consent to inhibit ghost surgery but does not include penalty provisions prohibiting ghost surgery itself. Also, the Korean Supreme Court precedents on this issue have not been settled as of yet. Therefore, this study referred to U.S precedents, law books, and related papers. Results: With respect to ghost surgery, we expect the charges of bodily harm, assault and battery, and fraud could be applied under Korean law, in addition to charges regarding the violation of medical law, such as the omission of entries or false entries in medical records. A patient provides consent to bodily harm prior to surgery, and only the person who is entrusted with such permission can become the operating surgeon in the operating room. Conclusion: In other words, even if other medical professionals are present in the operating room, the operating surgeon who received consent must take overall responsibility for the whole process of the surgery. A surgeon should bear in mind that a violation of such duty can constitute a criminal offense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Treatment and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2018, the Korean Surgical Society


  • Ghost surgery
  • Legal punishment
  • Medical disputes


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