It was buried in back pages (the crimes section) of the newspapers this morning but a decision came down yesterday in the heinous Ginza Eye Clinic case. As if in counterpoint to the post of yesterday, where a judge severely punished defendants for crimes that may not even exist, the defendant in the eye clinic case got off with what seems an absurdly light sentence.
For those who have forgotten the Ginza Eye Clinic (Ginza ganka) case, Dr. Mizoguchi Tomo was arrested in December 2010 for having conducted hundreds of LASIK procedures with unsterilized or reused medical devices, sometimes moving from one patient to another without even washing his hands, causing hundreds of serious eye infections that damaged the eyesight or even blinded patients.
Yesterday, Judge Kondo Hiroko sentenced Dr. Mizoguchi to 2 years in prison (prosecutors had asked for 3 years) for malpractice in the cases of 7 patients (ja).
C'mon judge, give him 10 years. Better yet, give him as much time in prison as his victims have to live with blindness...and yes, some of his victims were teenagers.
The next step is, unbelievably, petitioning the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour to strip Mizoguchi of his license to practice medicine. Then there is the ongoing class action suit against the Ginza Eye Clinic, attempting to recover for the victims whatever small monetary compensation they can expect to receive for their suffering.
That Mizoguchi was convicted at all was attributable to the huge number of patients affected: over 100 are either party to or are applying to be parties to the class action suit. It was easy for doctors to come forth and testify in court that Mizoguchi had departed from even the most basic medical practices in his surgeries.
In most medical malpractice cases, doctors are reluctant to come forward to testify against other doctors. Serve as consultants to legal teams, sure...but testify? No -- not when it means they might be ostracized by their peers for breaking the professional code of silence on malpractice...a kind of behavior one would normally associate with gangsters.
In a sense, Mizoguchi was sentenced to prison as much for having generated bad press for doctors as for injuring hundreds of trusting individuals.