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University Degree: Medical Law

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  1. Euthanasia. Despite the fact that euthanasia is classified as a criminal act and law takes no account of the motive of the doctor, instances where doctors are charged and prosecuted for having performed active euthanasia upon a patient are few

    Despite numerous attempts to legalize active voluntary euthanasia, e.g. the 2004 "Assisted Dying Bill"4, reform efforts have failed in the UK where the traditional belief remains that "I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel" ... The Hippocratic Oath.5 Statistics suggest that doctors in the UK are hardening their attitude towards euthanasia "just 2.6% of doctors said changing the law would benefit patients", however more than "80% of the people back the move". 6 Despite the fact that euthanasia is classified as a criminal act and law takes no account of the motive of the doctor, instances where doctors are charged and prosecuted for having performed active euthanasia upon a patient are few, e.g.

    • Word count: 1233

    The term 'miscarriage' was used instead of abortion in this legislation and under section 58 of this act, every women who is intending to procure her own miscarriage should possess any poison or other noxious thing unlawfully, or shall use any other harmful substance with the like intent unlawfully, and if convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for life.4 The section 59 of this act furthermore states that whoever supply or procure any poison or other harmful thing knowing that the same thing is intended to be used for the miscarriage of any women unlawfully,

    • Word count: 1489
  3. The right to die: should euthanasia be lawful?

    However, under the section 2(1) of the Suicide Act, 'A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years'.2 Furthermore, the Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Bill was presented in the House of Commons on 15th of December 1999 which suggested a prohibition for the doctors to intentionally cause a death of the patient by withdrawing the medication.

    • Word count: 1260
  4. Within the context of professional ethics, observing the principle of confidentiality means keeping information given by or about an individual in the course of a professional relationship secure and secret from others. In Hunter v Mann[1]

    The Court balanced the public interest in freedom of the press against the public interest in maintaining hospital records confidential. The Court found that lack of publication of the information would be of minimal significance since there was a wide ranging public debate about AIDS generally. In balancing these competing interests it should be noted that disclosure should in any event only be made to a relevant party - there should be no blanket disclosure. Subsequently the scope of medical confidentiality was considered by the Court of Appeal in W v Egdell3.

    • Word count: 1250
  5. "In establishing the standard of professional conduct that ought be reasonably adopted by doctors, common law does little more than articulate standards adopted by doctors themselves, it does not impose those of its own" Discuss

    This statement could be taken as a contradiction to what LJ McNair stated above, it could be seen that doctors are articulating their own standards, because judges do not want to get involved. Difficulties The first difficulty in application of the Bolam Test arises when applied to junior doctors, who may lack expertise. In this case the courts have felt the need to follow the reasoning given in Nettleship v Weston [1971] 3ALL ER 581.Where a learner driver was held subject to the same standard to that of the reasonably competent driver.

    • Word count: 1913
  6. The doctrine of Informed consent

    Professional Standard and Reasonable Test The legal test applied to the standard of care afforded to a patient by his doctor has historically been the professional standard or the "bolam test" after it was described by McNair, J in the case of Bolam v. Friern Hospital Management Board [1957]. The essential dictum from this case was that: ".....a doctor is not negligent of he acts in accordance with a practice accepted at the time as proper by a responsible body of medical opinion."

    • Word count: 1930
  7. Abortion laws in the UK - A Critical Analysis

    The law empowers doctors with the rights and responsibilities to decide on matters pertaining abortion. This can be seen as an anomaly as the statute was enacted to mitigate problems of illegal abortion, which was prevalent in the UK prior to the Act. It has been argued by Sheldon, drawing from the analysis of Michel Foucault?s analysis, that the Act merely reflects the immense moral turmoil of encouraging female irresponsibility, emotional instability and draws an assumption of a female?s sexual morality.[3] The law does not legalise abortion, rather it has laid down numerous exceptions to the illegality of abortion.

    • Word count: 1101
  8. Problems with PPACA

    Justice Alito spoke on the hypothetical typical healthy 27 year old worker who on average consumes less than $900 annually on healthcare services. Under the PPACA that same healthy 27 year old worker will be required to spend more than 5 times that amount for a healthcare policy that gives a low deductable and pediatric services. Two services that a healthy 27 year old normally wouldn?t choose.4 Regulations prevent small businesses to grandfather their health insurance plans, further driving up healthcare spending as small businesses search for new plans.1 When those same small businesses purchase new health insurance plans they are going to find a soggy sandwich in their lap.

    • Word count: 1408

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Explain and analyse the changes made to abortion law by The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990

    "In conclusion, it is clear that, despite the fact that the OAPA 1861 is still in force, the law has moved on slowly over the last century and a half so that there are now legally recognised exceptions, under the AA 1967 and HFEA 1990 in particular, where the law allows the termination of the foetus in the interests of the mother, other children and the child itself when its quality of life is in question. It is arguable, however, that the 1990 Act has not provided any further practical exceptions in comparison to the 1967 Act. However, new problems have developed as science has advanced astronomically in the same period so that now the power and scope of medical practitioners' ability to create life and take it away is once again being called into question, illustrated by Jepson, so the nature and scope of the law now needs to be re-evaluated. This is because, whilst we must act in the interests of life, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine when one life should be placed ahead of another when we are now often 'over-medicalising' difficult situations31 where a more human touch is necessary both in medicine and the law."

  • A doctor is on trial for murder, having ceased to treat a patient who has been in a persistent vegetative state for three years. Discuss the legal issues that would face the court. (2000-2500 words)

    "In conclusion, I have based my research on the case of Airedale National Health Service Trust v Bland (1993) 1 All ER 821. By looking at the courts decisions, we can say the following. The fact that the patient is in a Permanent Vegetate State means that there are slim chances of recovery after a certain period of time which means that there is no benefit further prolonging the patient’s life. The decision to cease medical treatment is because it would be in the best interest for the patient to die as there is no reason to live. Because of his inability to consent and the fact that there is no duty held to him there has been no breach in the law. Therefore, I would conclude by saying that the doctor in charge will not be liable for the death of the patient and will not be prosecuted for the charge of murder. ["

  • The law of England and Wales on assisted suicide is in urgent need of reform. Critically evaluate this statement, including consideration of relevant case law.

    "Conclusion The aim of this essay was to consider whether the law on assisted suicide in England and Wales is in need of reform, and it has done so by examining past and current reforms that have taken place through case law and through Parliament, before considering the debate in a wider context to establish what the issues surrounding the topic may be and how such matters have been addressed in other countries. It is evident that the law on assisted suicide is in urgent need of reform; as it currently stands the validity is challenged by the implicit sanctioning of suicide tourism (demonstrable by the low prosecution figures of the DPP) and the continued challenges under the ECHR. Additionally allowing such legal ambiguity to exist creates a two tier system where those who have the financial and personal resources to pursue assisted suicide in another jurisdiction are subject to different rules than those who do not, threatening two of the key tenants of the Rule of Law. It is evident that change in this area must come from Parliament, however their unwillingness to bring the issue to the forefront due to its polarising nature suggests that such uncertainty in the law may remain for the foreseeable future."

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