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What drives patients to sue doctors? The role of cultural factors in the pursuit of malpractice claims in Taiwan


  • Chiu, Yu-Chan


Many studies have investigated the reasons for patients' claiming physician malpractice. However, few have explored the patients' motivations for filing malpractice claims from a cultural perspective, particularly in Eastern societies. This study inspects why patients claimed malpractice after an adverse outcome and their rationales in relation to cultural factors in Taiwan. The goal was to comprehend the patients' view of the meaning of filing malpractice lawsuits. Using qualitative in-depth interviews with claimants, this study found that taking revenge, feelings of guilt, and the practice of filial piety are important factors that motivate people to pursue litigation. However, the driving force behind the malpractice claims made by the people interviewed in this study was the need for a jiau dai either for their injured or deceased family member or for themselves. A jiau dai is a resolution presented by the hospital/physician that satisfies the family involved and thus comforts them. In the process of negotiation, the decision of patients or families to file malpractice lawsuits is also strongly influenced by the attitude of physicians and hospitals. This study suggests that legal consultation and emotional support are needed to assist patients and their families in forming an appropriate plan of action for conducting negotiations or litigation, and for dealing with the guilt, grief, and bereavement that may ensue.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiu, Yu-Chan, 2010. "What drives patients to sue doctors? The role of cultural factors in the pursuit of malpractice claims in Taiwan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(4), pages 702-707, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:71:y:2010:i:4:p:702-707

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chiu, Yu-Chan & Smith, Katherine Clegg & Morlock, Laura & Wissow, Lawrence, 2007. "Gifts, bribes and solicitions: Print media and the social construction of informal payments to doctors in Taiwan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 521-530, February.
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