Prof. Robert Leflar spent a year at the University of Tokyo's law school studying the response of Japanese law to medical error. There is, as everyone knows, far less medical malpractice civil litigation there; peer review and professional discipline structures also turn out to be weak. A surprising counterbalance?
In Japan, injury or death due to medical error is often treated as a criminal matter. When medical error causes injury or death, patients or their family members call the police to investigate the incident. Arrests and prosecutorial decisions are based on results of investigations. In other words, medical error in Japan is considered a crime against the state. ... [Japan's] criminal code also contains sanctions for attempts to cover up mistakes by altering patients' charts.
Prof. Leflar's recent article (with co-author Futoshi Iwata) is entitled "Medical Error as Reportable Event, as Tort, as Crime: A Transpacific Comparison" and is available on SSRN. UPI also has a report.