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Medical Negligence June 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Japan, law, Uncategorized.

Three doctors who were working at the Jikei University School of Medicine's Aoto Hospital, Taro Hasegawa, 37, Jun Madarame, 40, and Shigetaka Maeda, 35 have all been found guilty of professional negligence resulting in death, in the case of the death of a 60 year old man who underwent an operation at the hospital.

Suspended sentences of 24 to 30 months were handed down citing that other members of the hospital were complicit in the patient's death.

It is shocking that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare sanction for Hasegawa and Madarame was just a 2 year suspension of their license (imposed in Mar 2004, so theoretically they could be practicing already). Both were fired by the hospital. Maeda got a 10 day suspension from the hospital, theMinistry of Health, Labour and Welfare has not imposed any sanction on him.

The doctors, or, indeed the hospital, had absolutely no experience in laparoscopic surgery which was attempted on the victim.

There was an attempted cover-up, and the hospital initially lied to the family of the victim.

These doctors who (tried to) put their own careers ahead of the welfare of the patient need to have their medical licenses revoked permanently.

Japanese doctors are well protected from legal claims, and the relevant ministry(the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) and the Japan Medical Association (a strong political lobby looking out first and foremost for its members, Hippocratic oath be damned, apparently), are extremely lenient in their treatment of doctors who have committed serious (and often, multiple) cases of negligence. Hospitals have been known to organise cover-ups, and destroy or modify patient records.

Japanese doctors (especially surgeons and senior administrators) often get cash gifts from their patients or their families, money which is not usually declared. It is partly the fault of patients who allow this scheme to be perpetuated.

The Japanese medical system and its legal oversight is in need of a major overhaul.

We need to out doctors who are unfit for the job, and drive them out of the profession. We also need to keep an eye out for doctors such as those involved in this case, and make sure they never get the chance to kill again. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the JMA need to realise that the Japanese public will no longer accept preferential treatment for doctors.

Doctors are no longer untouchable. Same goes for the other professions which were traditionally granted its members automatic social standing and respect from the community.

So many cases of doctors, teachers, politicians (what do these professions have in common? they were and still are addressed using the honorific "sensei") commiting professional misconduct or engaging in activities which are incompatible with the moral integrity required of these professions…..



1. Chris_B - June 29, 2006

As I recall no doctors have ever lost their license here for malpractice. The perfect record stands unchallenged.

2. fukumimi - June 29, 2006

You are right.
The historical causes for removal of a license were murder, rape, armed robbery, etc. But if you are a terrible doctor, you can get away with negligence all you want. A medical license is for life, and regardless of how many people you maim or kill in the course of work, you wouldn’t get your license terminated.

I believe the government decided that was a bit too lenient, even if the JMA is a big lobby which is cozy with the LDP.

I suspect that insurance for doctors is standardised as well. If insurance companies could actually implement variable insurance rates, and the govt made insurance compulsory, they could drive really bad doctors out of the market……

3. Chris_B - June 29, 2006

“Two doctors appeal ruling over patient’s death” -6/29/2006

“The two pleaded not guilty during the trial, arguing that the incident should be blamed largely on an anesthesiologist who they said failed to properly transfuse blood to the patient.”


The absolute nerve of these people!

4. Mark - in jp - May 24, 2008

If you want a clue as to the ‘respectability’ of the Japanese medical profession (I use those last three words *very* loosely) just look at the rest of the world.

You see Indian doctors working in UK, US, Australia… Everywhere!
UK Doctors work in other countries… Chinese doctors work in other countries. Doctors of every nation *except* Japan seem to be able to work successfully in other countries.

Have you ever been treated by a doctor who is a Japanese National in a country other than Japan? Have you ever even heard of a Japanese trained doctor practicing in another country, other than via volunteer work?

This will give you a clue as to:
(a) The standard of the Japanese medical profession.
(b) How medical professionals from other countries view Japanese trained doctors – no one wants to employ them!


5. fukumimi - May 24, 2008

Mark – in jp -,

Actually, there are plenty of Japanese trained doctors who have moved abroad (especially to the US), and are practicing at prestigious institutions. Hospitals affiliated with institutions such as HMS and Johns Hopkins (to name but two) have multiple Japanese doctors on their staff. I have an extended family member who practiced for several years at a leading US heart institute. There are plenty of Japanese doctors who have an international reputation in their chosen field.

Most doctors who move abroad except for volunteer work obviously do so for career and financial reasons. Given that many Japanese doctors are pretty comfortable in Japan, destination countries are pretty limited (I certainly can’t think why any Japanese doctor would want to move to the UK and become a doctor in the NHS, for example – the economics just don’t make any sense), and it is rather unfair to compare numbers of MDs emigrating from India or China to those emigrating from Japan given the differences in their situations back home. Following that line of logic, the recent

And the numbers of UK MDs who choose to practice overseas is a damning indictment of the state of the NHS’ treatment of medical professionals.

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