Discerning Why Patients Die: Legal and Political Controversies in Japan, the United States, and Taiwan

22 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2014 Last revised: 2 Apr 2015

See all articles by Robert B Leflar

Robert B Leflar

University of Arkansas - School of Law; Hendrix College

Date Written: February 1, 2014


The processes of discerning the causes of medical injury, and sometimes attributing them to errors by medical professionals, are fraught with legal and political controversy. This short descriptive essay presents several key features of how Japan, the United States, and Taiwan address the discernment process through their respective legal systems. Statistical trends in civil, criminal, and administrative systems for fixing responsibility and determining compensation are set out, and areas of political controversy are identified. Of particular interest are the diminishing number of civil malpractice claims in the United States, the recent establishment of medical specialty courts and no-fault obstetrical injury compensation systems in Japan and Taiwan, the relative prominence in the 21st century (in terms of physician concern, if not in the absolute number of cases) of criminal prosecutions of medical personnel in Japan and especially in Taiwan, and legislative proposals now under consideration in Japan and Taiwan to channel medical disputes away from the criminal law system and to improve peer review, dispute resolution, and patient safety.

Keywords: Medical malpractice, no-fault compensation, Japan, Taiwan, peer review, patient safety

JEL Classification: I18, K13, K40

Suggested Citation

Leflar, Robert B, Discerning Why Patients Die: Legal and Political Controversies in Japan, the United States, and Taiwan (February 1, 2014). Michigan State International Law Review, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 777-797, 2014; University of Arkansas Research Paper No. 14-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2389174

Robert B Leflar (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas - School of Law ( email )

1045 W. Maple St.
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States
479-575-2709 (Phone)
479-575-2053 (Fax)

Hendrix College ( email )

Conway, AR 72032
United States
479-466-7406 (Phone)

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