Fear of complaints and the threat of being sued force many doctors to practise defensively.
Irrespective of our litigious society, many of the guiding principles by which we practise medicine have a legal basis. A basic understanding of the case law and statutes provides doctors with an added armoury when dealing with difficult cases or indeed when faced with a complaint.
Doctors often have difficulty finding relevant legal texts and legal language can be hard to interpret.
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Raj Mohindra is a doctor with legal qualifications and is thus in a unique position to understand the needs of doctors, what is relevant to the medical profession, and the language required.
The Medical Law Handbook has been written with the aim of guiding medical practitioners when faced with medico-legal questions. It is not meant to be a substitute for face-to-face advice from medical indemnity organisations or a lawyer, but as a first port of call.
The handbook does not offer much detail on the principles of English law, the structure of the legal system or the nuances of legal practice but that is not the intention.
Important areas of medical debate such as confidentiality, consent, negligence, abortion, human tissue and end-of-life are covered brilliantly.
The text is very clearly set out, well structured and, perhaps most importantly, put into clinical context. Legal concepts and arguments are presented in clear and logical steps, backed up by legal references.
Conclusions conveniently draw the very essence of each chapter to a close.
Synopses of important case law make the book a fascinating and thought-provoking read, stimulating discussion as well as providing material for teaching and reflection.
The writing style tends to-ward challenging legalrather than medical-speak, making it heavy going in places, but this should not detract you from buying this book.
There are a number of medico-legal texts on the market, many of which are bulky and hard going, whereas this book is pitched at the right level for medical students to senior GPs and consultants.
It is well referenced, easy to access the salient information, clearly written, up to date and highly informative. Whether you want a detailed introduction to medical law, require legal information at your fingertips, or are merely intrigued by the case law, this book is well worth the investment.
- Dr Thakkar is a GP in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire