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Module Code - Title:


Year Last Offered:


Hours Per Week:













Grading Type:


Prerequisite Modules:

Rationale and Purpose of the Module:

The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the legal and ethical issues associated with the practice of medicine. The interface between law and medicine has become increasingly controversial in recent years. Aside from traditional concerns such as those relating to medical confidentially and access to medical records, an increasing awareness of the need to recognise and respect the autonomy of patients has raised new concerns which the legal system must address. This module seeks to introduce students to the challenges posed in the legal regulation of medical practice by introducing them to the law relating to medical confidentiality, access to medical records, consent to treatment and end-of-life decision-making.


This module covers: legal and ethical issues surrounding medical confidentiality and access to medical records; human rights and ethical perspectives on autonomy in healthcare decision-making; informed consent to medical treatment; capacity to consent in relation to minors and those with mental incapacity; refusal of treatment and; end-of-life decision-making.

Learning Outcomes:

Cognitive (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis)

On completion of this module, students should be able to: • Identify the ethical and legal framework relating to medical confidentiality; • Identify the ethical and legislative framework surrounding access to medical records; • Understand the human rights and ethical foundation for respect of patient autonomy in the context of healthcare decision-making; • Evaluate current case-law and legislation in the area with reference to the principles of respect for patient autonomy. • Apply current legislation and case-law to hypothetical situations and advise a hypothetical patient on his/her rights under existing Irish law. • Develop a sufficient understanding of the challenges in the area and of the current law to be able to identify avenues for reform.

Affective (Attitudes and Values)

On completion of this module, students should: • Understand the conflicts which may occur between medical ethics and legal principles. • Appreciate the ways in which law can impact upon both patients and healthcare practitioners.

Psychomotor (Physical Skills)


How the Module will be Taught and what will be the Learning Experiences of the Students:

The module is taught through lectures and tutorials which introduce students to contemporary challenges in medical law. Students are then expected to engage in self-directed study to further explore the issues raised in class. This engagement is furthered through group discussions in tutorial settings. In introducing students to the interface between law and medicine and helping them to discover ways in which the two, often competing disciplines, can engage with each other in a meaningful and workable way, the module aims to help students in development of the UL graduate attributes. Students will become more articulate and knowledgeable by learning about the impact of the law upon another discipline (i.e. medicine) as well as enhancing their collaborative skills through developing an understanding of the challenges faced in a medical context and learning how law can best respond. Recent developments in the area of medical law, along with research findings are incorporated into the module via the recommended reading, outlined in the study resources.

Research Findings Incorporated in to the Syllabus (If Relevant):

Prime Texts:

Madden (2011) Medicine, Ethics and the Law, 2nd edition , Bloomsbury Professional

Other Relevant Texts:

Mason & Laurie (2013) Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, 9th edition , Oxford University Press
Herring (2011) Medical Law , Oxford University Press
Jackson (2013) Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 3rd ed , Oxford Universtiy Press

Programme(s) in which this Module is Offered:


Semester - Year to be First Offered:

Module Leader: