An analysis of causative factors in closed criminal medical malpractice cases of the Taiwan Supreme Court: 2000–2014

Kuan Han Wu*, Shih Yu Cheng, Yung Lin Yen, Chien Hung Wu, Ming Ta Tsai, Fu Jen Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most medical malpractice in Taiwan leads to criminal prosecution. This study examined the epidemiologic factors and clinical errors that led to medical malpractice convictions in Taiwanese criminal prosecutions. A retrospective, 15-year population-based review of criminal Supreme Court judgments pertaining to medical malpractice against physicians and nurses was conducted. Eighty-four cases were reviewed, yielding data that included the number and specialty involved, accused hospitals, the diagnosis, the time interval between incidents to closure, result of adjudication, the origin of cases (private vs. public prosecution), the result of medical appraisal, and the primary error. Overall, the cases averaged 7.6 years to achieve final adjudication. Seventy-five percent were settled in favor of the clinician; twenty-three physicians and three nurses were found guilty, but all of these avoided imprisonment via probation or replacement with forfeit. The single most risky specialty was emergency medicine (22.6% of the cases), with 36.8% of those resulting in guilty verdicts. The most common diagnosis groups were infectious diseases (23.8%), intracranial hemorrhages (10.7%), and acute coronary syndrome (9.5%). Public prosecutions had a 41.2% conviction rate; no guilty verdicts resulted from private prosecution. Nineteen (22.6%) cases were commuted, and 73.7% of those had a controversial appraisal result. The characteristics of criminal malpractice prosecution in Taiwan that could be improved to relieve the stress of frivolous lawsuits on the judicial process include lengthy jurisdiction process; low public-prosecution conviction rate; frequent commuted jurisdiction related to a controversial appraisal; and zero imprisonment rate for clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalLegal Medicine
Volume23
DOIs
StatePublished - 01 11 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016

Keywords

  • Criminal
  • Malpractice
  • Taiwan

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