Time trends of assessments for medical dispute cases in Taiwan: a 20-year nationwide study

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Abstract

Background:

In Taiwan, nearly all medical dispute cases were reviewed by an official Medical Review Committee (MRC).

Aims:

The aim of this study was to investigate the time trends of assessment reports by the MRC to estimate the changing trends of medical malpractice litigation.

Methods:

All assessment reports of the MRC from a nationwide database were reviewed. The assessment reports were analysed according to the year of completion. We further analysed the time trends by adjusting numbers for the size of the general population and numbers of physicians. Stratified analyses were also conducted by region and commission authority.

Results:

Between 1987 and 2006, the MRC completed a total of 5324 assessment reports, with 4949 reports involving a medical dispute and the remaining 375 reports not involving a medical dispute. The numbers of assessment reports increased from 139 in 1987 to 221 in 1996 and 361 in 2006. The assessment increased from 0.70 per 100 000 people in 1987 to 1.03 and 1.58 per 100 000 people in 1996 and 2006 respectively. There was a stable trend of 8.5–10.0 assessments per 1000 physicians annually during the study period. Rising trends were consistent for all regions of Taiwan and for all criminal cases, but increases were more significant for civil cases.

Conclusions:

The numbers of medical dispute cases have increased significantly over the past 20 years. More studies to investigate the reasons of the rising trends and to find resolving methods to decrease the numbers of medical dispute will be helpful in the future.

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