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5. Abortion and prenatal harm  

This chapter is concerned with the statutory provisions governing abortion and prenatal harm. It considers the offence of abortion under sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 and section 1(1) of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 and the defences available prior to the Abortion Act 1967. It discusses the ethical debates concerning abortion, exploring ‘right-to-life’ arguments and rights of parties such as the foetus and the father. It also looks at the court’s approach towards adult women who lack capacity, before concluding with an analysis of actions for prenatal harm, namely, wrongful birth, wrongful conception, prenatal injury, and wrongful life. Relevant cases are cited.

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Cover Medical Law Concentrate

6. Assisted reproduction  

This chapter deals with the statutory provisions governing assisted reproduction, with particular reference to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. It also explores the issue of access to services and whether these are available on the National Health Service, together with the ethical and legal issues surrounding the use and storage of gametes and embryos, surrogacy arrangements, and screening of embryos. Relevant cases are considered, where appropriate.

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4. Confidentiality and access to medical records  

This chapter examines confidentiality as a fundamental aspect of doctor–patient relationships: its ethical basis and equitable, contractual, and tortious obligations. It then considers the law governing access to medical records and statute that necessitates fair and lawful processing of sensitive personal data and the EU General Data Protection Regulation aimed at harmonising data protection legislation. It discusses exceptions to the duty of confidentiality, including explicit and implied consent, prevention of harm to others, police investigation, public interests, and press freedom. The chapter considers confidentiality with respect to children; adults who lack capacity and deceased patients; remedies available for breach of confidence; access to electronic patient records; and issues raised by genetics-related information.

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3. Consent  

This chapter deals with consent as a necessary precondition for medical treatment of competent adults. It provides an overview of the common law basis of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, followed by discussion of issues relating to information disclosure, public policy, and the key case of Montgomery and how this applies to more recent cases. It considers the statutory provisions for adults who lack capacity, exceptions to the requirement to treat patients who lack capacity in their best interests, and consent involving children under the Children Act 1989. Gillick competence, a concept applied to determine whether a child may give consent, is also explained. Relevant case law, including Gillick, which gave rise to the concept, are cited where appropriate.

Chapter

Cover Medical Law Concentrate

1. The contemporary health-care environment  

This chapter provides an overview of the contemporary health-care environment, with particular reference to the National Health Service (NHS) and its core principles, as well as its constitution. Access to health services, as set out in section 3(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006, is also discussed, together with the quality of care provided for individuals. In addition, the chapter looks at the findings of the Francis Report, which conducted a public inquiry into acknowledged failings in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the government response to the report, and the future of the NHS. In addition, there is a section on public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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9. The end of life  

This chapter deals with key legal and ethical issues surrounding end-of-life decisions, with particular reference to physician-assisted death, such as euthanasia. Suicide and assisted suicide, administration of pain relief, and futility are considered. Relevant legislation such as the Suicide Act 1961 (as amended by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009), the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 are discussed. The chapter examines several bioethical principles, including sanctity-of-life and quality-of-life debates; autonomy, beneficence, and medical paternalism; personhood, palliative care, and the double effect doctrine. Finally, it considers human rights issues, treatment requests, incompetent patients, prolonged disorders of consciousness, and locked-in syndrome. Recent cases are considered.

Book

Cover Medical Law Concentrate
Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. Concentrates show you what to expect in a law exam, what examiners are looking for, and how to achieve extra marks. Medical Law Concentrate provides a study and revision guide aiming to cover the essential aspects of this rapidly changing field of law. Topics covered include: the contemporary healthcare environment; medical negligence; consent; confidentiality; and access to medical records. The volume also looks at abortion and prenatal harm, assisted reproduction, clinical research, and organ transplantation. Finally, it covers mental health law and the end-of-life decisions. The work is underpinned by reference to statutory provisions and the common law. Where appropriate, pertinent bioethical and moral principles that often underpin the law in this area are discussed, as well as the influence of quasi-law. Reference is made to key points of comparison with other jurisdictions, as well as some socio-legal considerations.

Chapter

Cover Medical Law Concentrate

2. Medical negligence  

This chapter deals with medical negligence and how claims can be brought in the tort of negligence via three requirements: the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care; the defendant’s performance fell below the standard expected; and that the claimant’s injury was caused by the breach of duty. The duty of care in doctor–patient relationships and in ‘good Samaritan’ situations is considered. The Bolam test is discussed, which is used to judge the standard of care expected from doctors (subject to the Bolitho principle), as well as tests to establish causation, such as the ‘but for’ test. Relevant cases are cited, where appropriate. Criminal negligence is also discussed.

Chapter

Cover Medical Law Concentrate

8. Mental health  

This chapter focuses on statutory provisions governing mental health and mental health disorders, with particular reference to the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It first outlines modern approaches to mental disorders, including legal reforms and the MHA 1983 Code of Practice (2015). It considers the main routes by which patients are admitted to the mental health system (voluntary or involuntary), deprivation of liberty, including Cheshire West and the proposed liberty protection safeguards, and the issue of consent with regards to medical treatment. Finally, the chapter discusses community care that must be provided to people with mental health disorders following discharge from hospital, particularly aftercare and supervised community treatment orders. Relevant cases are considered.

Chapter

Cover Medical Law Concentrate

7. Organ transplantation  

This chapter deals with statutory provisions governing human tissue and organ transplantation, with particular reference to the Human Tissue Act 2004. It first considers the position at common law with regards to property in the human body, followed by a discussion of appropriate consent given by potential donors prior to their death or by deceased donors. It also considers the change in law to presumed consent under the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019. Organ donation from living persons and ethical issues surrounding organ transplantation are then explored. The chapter concludes by looking at alternative sources of organs, including xenotransplantation and artificial organs. Relevant court cases are cited, where appropriate.