The Regulation of Medical Malpractice in Japan
Robert B. Leflar
University of Arkansas - School of Law
November 11, 2008
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Vol. 467, pp. 443-449, 2009
How Japanese legal and social institutions handle medical errors is little known outside Japan. For almost all of the 20th century, a paternalistic paradigm prevailed. Characteristics of the legal environment affecting Japanese medicine included few attorneys handling medical cases, low litigation rates, long delays, predictable damage awards, and low-cost malpractice insurance. However, transparency principles have gained traction and public concern over medical errors has intensified. Recent legal developments include courts' adoption of a less deferential standard of informed consent; increases in the numbers of malpractice claims and of practicing attorneys; more efficient claims handling by specialist judges and speedier trials; and highly publicized criminal prosecutions of medical personnel. The health ministry is undertaking a noteworthy 'model project' to enlist impartial specialists in investigation and analysis of possible iatrogenic hospital deaths to regain public trust in medicine's capacity to assess its mistakes honestly and to improve patient safety and has proposed a nationwide peer review system based on the project's methods.
The full text paper can be downloaded from the SpringerLink website or obtained from the author.
Keywords: Japan, medical malpractice, comparative law, health law, peer review
JEL Classification: I18, K13, K32, K49
Date posted: December 19, 2008 ; Last revised: March 22, 2013