PROTECTING PATIENT’S RIGHTS IN A POST-TRADITIONAL LEGAL SYSTEM: COMPARING LATVIAN AND JAPANESE MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
Litigation concerning the violation of patient’s rights, which are associated with informed consent, confidentiality, right to information and medical records, as well as occasionally with end-of-life decision- making are quite frequent in common law and civil law jurisdictions, and has lasted for over a century in issues concerning malpractice, or unauthorized medical interventions and breaches of medical confidentiality. However, what could we say about medical law-related litigation in Japan? Technically, the legal system of Japan is a civil law one, but is practically post-traditional, which is reflected in extreme paternalism in healthcare and patient-physician relationships, which could be observed before the recent decades and which still has some impact on the modern Japanese medical law, despite the number of medical law-related litigation is becoming more frequent nowadays. The Japanese legislation does not have a specific “patient’s rights law” in contrast to European states, and most of the principles relating to medical malpractice derive from case law – the practice of the Supreme Court and of the lower courts. Each of the decisions strongly depends upon the factual circumstances, and the post-traditional features of the legal system may have some impact on it.
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