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J Law Med. 2003 Nov;11(2):162-84.

The structure of medical malpractice decision-making in Japan.

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Department of Health Services Management and Policy, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan.


The article summarises the problems in the medical malpractice litigation systems in the United Kingdom and Japan, demonstrating the similarities and identifying the length of time between initiating an action and its decision and other factors responsible for lengthy litigation. Based on analysis of decisions of medical malpractice cases between 1986 and 1998 in Japan, the functioning of the Japanese medical malpractice litigation system is discussed. Lengthy litigation is shown to be correlated with outcome and implies that the Japanese medical dispute resolution mechanism favours those who can endure lengthy litigation, namely the defendants, who are physicians or hospitals. In view of the similarities between the two systems, it is likely that the same bias--that the wealthier party in the litigation is more likely to win the case--also occurs in medical malpractice litigation in the United Kingdom and Australia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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