This course has two aims: to introduce students to the general principles of medical law and to look at a number of problem areas; and to encourage ethical thinking about medico-legal issues. Two-thirds of the year will concentrate on medical law; the remainder of the year on medical ethical issues.
Medical law will focus on:
- consent, including consent by others
- medical malpractice
- medical records and issues of confidentiality
- the law relating to medically assisted reproduction
- pre-natal injury
- donation and transplant of human tissue
Medical ethics will cover (and give the student the opportunity to study
in depth one of)
- medically assisted reproduction
- organ donation
- HIV and AIDS
- The Human Genome Project: genetic therapy; cloning
The dissertation will be from one of these topics (or another, subject to approval).
Students will do a 3 hour written examination in the summer (3 questions on medical law) (worth 60%) and a dissertation not exceeding 8000 words on a question of medical ethics (worth 40%). The dissertation is done in the middle of the year and given in in February after Reading Week.
Instruction will be by means of a weekly two hour seminar and a fortnightly tutorial for the duration of medical law; medical ethics and the law will be taught by a two hour seminar and individual consultations.
The literature is voluminous. The course textbook is Kennedy and Grubb, Medical Law (3rd ed. 2000). This can be supplemented by Brazier, Medicine, Patients and the Law (2nd ed. 1992). On ethics the best sources are Harris, The Value of Life, Singer and Wells, The Reproduction Revolution, Lockwood, Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine and Warnock, A Matter of Life (the Warnock Report). There are many other specialist sources, including Battin, The Least Worst Death, Blank, Regulating Reproduction, Dworkins Lifes Dominion, Harris, Wonderwoman and Superman, Hursthouse, Beginning Lives, Kennedy, Treat Me Right, Rowland, Living Laboratories.
There are specialist journals: Medical Law Review, Bioethics, Hastings Center Report, Journal of Medical Ethics. Medical Law Reports are the specialist law reports.
The subject will appeal to those interested in the interaction between law and medicine, those interested in a new growth area permeated by debate and controversy. The subject enables you to build upon existing knowledge (particularly in tort and criminal law) and apply it.