LAWGENRL 432 - Health Care Law

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: First Semester
Contact hours: Lectures - 3 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Joanna Manning and Ron Paterson
Prerequisites: LAW 211, 231
Restriction: LAW 427

Course description

Health Care Law has grown into a discrete area of specialist study in approximately the last thirty years. Once dominated by medical negligence, it now encompasses the study of the principles of law that govern medical practice, the health professional-patient relationship, and the delivery of health care services.

Content outline

Some topics are covered in some years and others in other years. The course is likely to include an examination of the following topics, time permitting: an introduction to medical ethics as an underpinning for legal decision-making in the field, with application to selected recent, relevant cases; a study of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers Rights, with interpretations of the Code by the Health and Disability Commissioner, disciplinary tribunals and courts. Important also is examination of the new jurisdiction of the Health and Disability Commissioner, as well as a short introduction to the disciplinary process and the Human Rights Review Tribunal jurisdiction. The central aspect of the course is a study of the fundamental concepts of competence to decide and consent to medical treatment and the lawfulness of providing treatment to patients who are incompetent to consent, which may include consent to treatment by or on behalf of children. Another possible topic is the duty of medical confidence, and its limits. We may also examine the law and ethics of rationing of health care. This is followed by a study of the legal issues arising from passive euthanasia and futile treatment. There may be some change in these topics to accommodate new legal developments.


30 minute in-class test (20%)

2 hour open book exam (80%)

Both the test and the final exam are open book. This means that you may, if you wish, bring into the test and exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Prescribed text

There is no prescribed text for this course, but photocopied materials prepared by the lecturer will be distributed to the class for reading for lectures, forming the focus of lectures and class discussion.