Health Care and the Law (5th ed.).
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Mair, Judith
Pub Date: 02/01/2011
Publication: Name: Health Information Management Journal Publisher: Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd. Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd. ISSN: 1833-3583
Issue: Date: Feb, 2011 Source Volume: 40 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: Health Care and the Law, 5th ed. (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: McIlwraith, Janine; Madden, Bill
Accession Number: 252944959
Full Text: Health Care and the Law (5th ed.)

by Janine McIlwraith and Bill Madden

Thomson Reuters (Professional), 2010 ISBN 9780455 227030.

735 pp.

Price $98.00 (softbound)

There are only a handful of texts on healthcare and the law published in Australia and this publication has exceptional coverage of the topic. The structure of the book comprises five parts: Introductory Concepts, looking at what is law, legal structure and process; Patient Relationships, covering issues of consent, negligence, patient information and privacy, patients' property and contract; Employment, looking at contracts to provide health care services, accidents and injuries related to health care, registration and practice; Regulatory, covering drugs, criminal law, and public health, including communicable diseases and registration of births and deaths and coronial inquiries; Ethical/Legal issues, covering human tissue transplants, reproductive technology, recognition of human rights and discussion of decision making, law and ethics.

There are 19 chapters. The general layout of each chapter consists of an overview of the topic being discussed and each is punctuated by appropriate subheadings that allow the reader to readily comprehend the next step in understanding the progression of the text and to locate a particular subtext. There is extensive use of case vignettes that are interposed in order to demonstrate how the law being discussed operates in practice. This adds to the general interest of the text. To make the content clearer, the authors use flow-charts and checklists. At the end of each chapter is a comprehensive list of references and further readings.

In a federal system of government such as Australia is, it can be an arduous task to draw together the differing state and federal legislation relevant to health care. The Table of Statutes at the beginning of the text shows just how well the authors have located and drawn upon the relevant Statutes from each state and territory. Likewise, there is an extensive Table of Cases they have referred to in illustrating the law in action. In order to understand the role of case-law and statutes in the legal process, readers need to refer to Chapter 1 in which the authors place the law and the legal system in context.

Part II, which is devoted to patient relationships, is essential knowledge for all health professionals. The chapters within this section deal with important issues in practice such as consent to treatment, negligence and patient information and privacy. There is an emphasis on the need to obtain valid consent from competent patients and deals with issues of obtaining consent for a legally incompetent person. The chapter on negligence is comprehensively written and incorporates reference to relevant civil liability legislation for each jurisdiction.

The information given is up-to-date with one exception; namely, the adoption of national registration, which did not commence until 1 July 2010. Although it was mooted that the governments of each state and territory were moving toward a form of national health professional registration, and complaints, performance, conduct and health matters, the precise details of the final structure were not known at the time the text was being prepared for publishing.

I enjoyed reading this book. I found that it is well written and deals with each topic thoroughly. I would highly recommend it to all health practitioners as an essential read. All health practitioners practise within a legal framework and in a more litigious society it is essential that they know and understand both their legal obligations towards patients and employers and their own rights. The text should be a mandatory reference for all health students to consult in order to expand their knowledge of health care and the law.

Judith Mair PhD, LLB, RN, RM, DNE.

Legal Educator

Faculty of Health Sciences

The University of Sydney

East Street

Lidcombe NSW 1825


Tel: 0408-265-254

Gale Copyright: Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.