Course Title: Legal Issues in Medicine

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Legal Issues in Medicine

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


615H Accounting & Law


Course Coordinator: Les Haberfield

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 5764

Course Coordinator

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the legal environment and ethical framework within which medicine is practised in Australia and internationally. Students will be exposed to critical thinking about the socio-legal framework and legal and ethical standards underpinning the practice of medicine. Through problem based learning, students will begin to appreciate what laws apply in given situations and how professional medical conduct is regulated. Students will also develop skills in reading, understanding and applying statutes, case materials and journal articles. This involves the development of comprehension skills, legal literacy, and the students’ ability to analyse problems and to express ideas in a precise manner.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development


On completion of the course, students should be able to:

• Effectively research electronic databases and Internet resources relevant to health law and extract meaningful information.
• Have an appreciation of aspects of the legal framework within which doctors and health professionals operate (including both the civil law and criminal law)
• Understand the Australian medical legal framework, including sources of law, principles of statutory interpretation, relationship between common and statutory law, ethical principles, and other regulatory mechanisms, and gain an overview of legal frameworks in other jurisdictions.
• Exercise skills in legal methodology in selected areas of medical law.
• Understand the underlying principles of a number of areas of law relevant to health care practitioners and hospitals and how to apply these principles in various situations.
• Evaluate policy issues discussed in law reform proposals and journal articles dealing with current medical law issues.
• Develop awareness of how changes in the law may affect medical practice


The Knowledge and Generic Capabilities that have been identified and integrated into this course are:

Knowledge Capabilities

The Knowledge Capabilities that will be developed are:

• Identification of legal problems and use of legal problem solving to analyse issues to communicate effectively with staff, peers, supervisors and with legal practitioners.
• Identification of relevant areas of common and statutory law together with an understanding of the impact of these laws on medical practice.
• The ability to obtain and communicate the information management required to make informed judgments including integrating information from other disciplines.

The knowledge capabilities will be developed through the following areas of law and of legal practice to be studied:

• Legal resources and research skills
• The role of the legal system in regulating the doctor-patient relationship
• Problem based learning approaches
• Common law of relevance to doctors– tort, crime, contract and equity
• Statute law of relevance to doctors – Medical Practice, Health, Health Records, Health Services, Privacy. Medical Treatment, Infertility, Trade Practices, Consumer Law, Data Protection Laws, Intellectual Property Laws, Coroners, Human Tissue, Wrongs etc

Generic Capabilities

In addition to course-specific knowledge gained from each post-graduate course undertaken, there are a number of capabilities that apply across courses and are of value to students. They include such abilities as problem solving, teamwork, team leadership, communication, and creativity. These generic capabilities will continue to be developed as students’ progress through their studies. This course is designed to foster and further develop the development of the following generic capabilities:

• Problem diagnosis and solving: apply legal knowledge to case studies
• Team participation: working in teams to solve problems
• Evidence based practice: interpret judgments and statutes and use them appropriately in legal problem solving
• Information management: locate and access legal information from a wide variety of sources, discern value and use, use legal information to support decision- making.
• Communicative capacity: ability to communicate the results of problem solving activities and to frame judgments and practice with professional legal and ethical frameworks.
• Life long learning skills: ability to understand the impact of new laws, to investigate new legal trends and to keep up-to-date.

Overview of Learning Activities

This course requires students to participate in various learning activities. These activities comprise the following:

• Engaging in legal research by means of searching electronic legal databases, Internet resources and law journals.
• Participation in class discussion.
• Resolving ethical and legal questions within case study problems
• Preparing case study reports using the skills developed in this course.

Overview of Learning Resources

Students will be advised of the prescribed readings for this course and other reading materials upon enrolment.

Distributed Learning System (DLS)

This course is supported online using the Learning Hub of the DLS. The DLS gives access to important announcements, staff contact details, the teaching schedule, assessment timelines and a variety of important teaching and learning materials. The Learning Hub of the DLS can be found at

Overview of Assessment

There are normally two pieces of assessment, a research paper and a take home exam.