Emory International Law Review


Taiwan’s healthcare system, lauded internationally for its universal insurance coverage, moderate costs, and high quality of care, has one significant group of detractors: its physicians. Overworked, squeezed financially by the nation’s global budgeting system’s annual payment restrictions, and oppressed by both criminal prosecutions and civil malpractice actions, doctors and hospitals raised criticisms that culminated in legislative reforms enacted in 2017 and 2022. Are the reforms making any difference?

This Article offers the first comprehensive examination in English of how Taiwan’s medical injury law works. The Article is based on interviews with judges, attorneys, physicians, scholars, and other citizens, literature reviews, government statistics and statistical analyses of court decisions.

We set out statutory grounds for, and a procedural overview of, Taiwan’s medical malpractice litigation – both criminal and civil, accompanied by numerical litigation trends and comparisons with practice in Japan, the US, and European nations. We introduce five key aspects of Taiwan’s medical injury law in action: (a) the connection between criminal and civil claims, a structure giving criminal complainants various advantages to the dismay of the medical profession; (b) informed consent doctrine and practice; (c) third-party expert assessments as key evidence; (d) the burgeoning use of alternative dispute resolution to avoid litigation; and (e) the role of administrative public injury compensation funds. After an overview of the system’s economics and judicial decisions, we discuss the politics behind recent reform efforts.

Our conclusions: The 2017 reforms appear to have had little influence on judicial outcomes, but the 2022 reform, when implemented, is expected to improve claims resolution through restructured mediation practices. Physicians’ dismay about the legal system, at least, is somewhat alleviated. Taiwan’s medical injury law has approached a state of equilibrium.