"In Our View, Therefore, Medical Law is a Subset of Human Rights Law" (Kennedy, I & A. Grubb. Medical Law 3rd edition (2000))

Essay by jamilB-, March 2004

download word file, 9 pages 2.8 1 reviews

The law concerning the delivery of health care is constantly changing, and media attention is often attracted by the latest story on some legal aspect of the practice of medicine. The source of healthcare law gives an indication of the magnitude of the subject and demonstrates, without embellishment, the wider influences that are brought to bear on our law makers when they consider issues of medical law. Such influences include human rights law, European Union law and the provisions of health care services. As a result, medical ethics and human rights issues now command much more attention in the medical profession and society. The UK government has committed itself under international law to the promotion of its citizen's health and the prevention of disease. Thus, the health care services in the UK have been constantly searching for effective methods for preventing disease. The BMA believes that 'The primary goal of medicine is to benefit the patient by restoring or maintaining the patient's health as far as possible, maximising benefit and minimising harm'.

The ever expanding medical technology has allowed doctors to intervene with the human body from even before its biological conception and even after an irrevocable loss of consciousness. Society is frequently legally challenged to regulate new fields of medical activity that are ethically controversial. Legislators and judges are now called to intervene in areas that were previously seen as the exclusive domain of medical science. Thus, medical law is also recognised as a subset of human rights law. But, given the novelty of the problems raised, conventional human rights law may not offer ready answers.

There is no specific legal instrument that provides a patient with enforceable rights. The Patient's Charter has no legal force and it is better to see the document as setting the standards that...