An Analysis of the Judicial Practice of the Crime of Medical Accident in Mainland China
In 1997, the criminal law of the People’s Republic of China was revised and the crime of medical accident was newly added, but the judicial application of this crime has been in a low frequency state. This paper collects and analyzes all cases of the crime from China Judgements Online and Itslaw.com. It turns out that no matter filing a supplementary civil action or new civil procedure, as long as medical malpractice disputes goes into the criminal procedure, compensation for spiritual damages, the most important part of the civil compensation, will indeed encounter obstacles. This will then greatly affect the initiative of patients to investigate criminal responsibility of medical staffs. Mediation agreement between doctor and patient will bring benefits to both parties, which then results in reduced supplementary civil action. Harsh conditions for criminal private prosecution of medical accident make it extremely difficult to even register. From the empirical perspective, the crime of medical accident adapts strict standard for both conviction and sentencing in judicial practice. Subjects of the crime are typical, instead of hospital administrative staff, support crew or auxiliary personnel. Objective response of the crime is breach of conventional duty of care, in other words, negligence is very obvious. Consequence of the damage of the crime is usually death rather than serious damage to health of patients. The recognition process of criminal causality also follows the unification of basic fact, medical evaluation and legal judgment. The application of the crime of medical accident is inactive in the long run and has been strictly controlled. It actually reflects the diversity of legislative purposes of this crime. That is, protection for rights of life and health for patients is important, while the society should not neglect the significance of ensuring medical practice or improving medical level in order to promote development public health authority either.