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Purpose: Claims of malpractice and medical error are on the rise in South Korea. In this paper we argue that, in order to prevent or reduce such medical disputes, ethical education must be strengthened and an effective system for reporting medical errors must be established. Method: The research subjects for this study were patients who complained of inadequate treatment at the emergency center of one Korean hospital between January 2006 and December 2007. The complaints of these subjects were examined in order to determine the nature and cause of the complaints, including any human factors that led to the complaints. Result: A total 54 complaints were reported. Among these, “unkindness” was the most frequently reported complaint. In 27 (49%) of the cases, the cause of the complaint was traced to a human factor, with “lack of explanation” and “bad attitude” totally 69% of the cases. Such complaints were resolved by a variety of methods, including further explanations, apologies, reduction or exemption from the cost of treatment or asking for assistance from related departments. Conclusion: Patients that experience medical errors tend to lose trust in the doctor-patient relationship, which hinders the resolution of such medical errors. This study emphasizes the need to strengthen ethical education and establish a proper procedure for reporting medical errors in order to prevent and resolve medical error and the disputes to which they give rise.