heavy work? Supreme Court looking at stress factors rather than working hours

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The Supreme Court ruled that a pharmacist who died of a cerebral hemorrhage after suffering from work pressure in such a way that he was asked to come up with a way to minimize overtime pay for employees at a newly hired hospital was considered an occupational accident.

The 3rd division of the Supreme Court (Chief Justice Ahn Cheol-sang) broke the lower court ruling that the plaintiff lost the case in the appeal against the spouse of a general hospital pharmacist, Mr. It was announced on the 18th that he was returned to the Seoul High Court.

Demand for minimization of extended pay following the manufacture of medicines
1st trial “cerebral hemorrhage in pursuit of work perfection”

After working as a pharmacist for about 1 year and 6 months, Mr. A moved to a general hospital in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam-do, as a short-term contract drug manager. However, in January of the following year, a month after getting a job, I accidentally dispensed the wrong medicine and handed it to patient B.

Recognizing this a day later, Mr. A went to visit Mr. B’s spouse, returned the wrongly prescribed medicine, and delivered a new one. In the process, Mr. A stumbled and fell, and Mr. B’s spouse raised him up. Even after the medication was mismanufactured, Mr. A suffered from stress from work. The hospital asked Mr. A to come up with a plan to minimize overtime pay for the pharmaceutical department staff. Also, outside of working hours, I was thinking about ways to improve the drug system, but in the process, I had a conflict with the nursing department.

A, who had a headache after changing jobs, was treated at an oriental clinic on January 31 of the same year. But the next day, after returning to work as usual, he collapsed at home. The husband who found Mr. A immediately called an ambulance and was taken to the hospital, but he died 10 days later. Cerebral edema due to unspecified subarachnoid hemorrhage was the cause of death.

The bereaved family claimed to be a work-related accident due to stress and applied to the Corporation for payment of the survivor’s pension and funeral expenses, but was rejected because there were no objective work-related burden factors. The family then filed a lawsuit in August 2019.

The first trial ruled in favor of the bereaved family, saying that it was a work-related accident. The court said, “A considerable causal relationship between death and work is recognized as it is judged that Mr.

Representative “Judgment reflecting individual stressors”

In particular, it is believed that the hospital’s request for a ‘minimization of overtime pay’ may have affected the stress. The court explained, “The hospital’s request is contrary to the interests of the staff, so it seems that Mr. A needed to persuade and adjust the staff.” The idea is that, despite his short career, he must have been under a lot of stress as the general manager of the pharmaceutical department.

Fear of adverse effects on performance evaluation due to mismanufacturing of medicines and stress related to preparing medicines and system improvement measures were also cited as grounds for recognizing occupational accidents. In addition, the fact that there was no cerebrovascular disease was also a factor.

On the other hand, the appeals court dismissed the family’s claim, saying that it is difficult to believe that mental stress caused the brain hemorrhage. The court found that it was difficult to say that he suffered from heavy workload as his working hours were only about 40 hours a week on average for the four weeks before the accident.

However, the Supreme Court overturned the appeal, saying that a significant causal relationship between work and death was recognized. The court said, “Mr. A’s existing disease abruptly deteriorated beyond the natural progression due to stress caused by changes in the work environment from having a risk factor for cerebral aneurysm to a position in charge of the pharmaceutical department, maintenance of the pharmaceutical department, and mismanufacturing accidents, etc. There is room to be regarded as a cause of death due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage.”

Lawyers Yong-Jun Kim and Wi-Jeong Kim (law firm pick-up) who represented the family of Mr. A said, “It is not a judgment that corrects the original judgment, which was wrongly judged, even though it is not to judge the relevance of work based only on working hours and actual disadvantages.” It is significant that we have concluded on cerebrovascular disease.”


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