Leg Med (Tokyo). 2011 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print]
China's criminal penalty for medical malpractice: Too lenient or not?
Zhu S, Li L, Li Y.
The second Female Labor Camp, Labor Reeducation Branch Bureau, Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Justice, Chongqing, China.
Although China had greatly improved its health and medical system, the contradiction between arduous medical tasks and insufficient health resources has not been fundamentally resolved. This contradiction raised a large number of legal issues in medical industry. Literatures about these issues are usually published in legal journal, and are not easy accessible to clinicians. We thus provide clinicians a brief introduction to the legal liability of medical malpractice, and describe the debate about the punishment setting of China's medical malpractice crime in detail. Considering the complexity and humanitarian nature of medical practice, legislators set a relative lenient punishment system for medical malpractice crime. But the "aggravating" supporter argued that, judging from criminal jurisprudence, only serious irresponsible medical personnel might face criminal penalty, so severe penalty was not conflict with the humanitarian nature of medical work. They also deemed that, too lenient penalties of this crime had broken the internal harmony of Criminal Law, and violated the basic principles of law. The opponents believed that: although the statutory penalty for medical malpractice crime seemed lenient, the declared sentence was more severe than surrounding areas. And, too severe penalties would not only aggravate the shortage of Chinese medical personnel, but also deteriorate the unbalanced physician-patient relationship. So, they did not agree enhancing the penalty of medical malpractice crime. We propose to add disqualification to the punishment setting of medical malpractice crime, reform the health system more thoroughly. We also hope Chinese governments could encourage medicolegal research. And, from the viewpoint of risk management in health care, we emphasize the role of Medical Professional Liability Insurance system as a powerful tool to prevent medical malpractice.