J Med Ethics 42:138-140 doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-101013
  • Teaching and learning ethics
  • paper

Learning the law: practical proposals for UK medical education

  1. J K Margetts
  1. Centre for Medical Education Research, Durham University, Durham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr J K Margetts, Centre for Medical Education Research, Durham University, Burdon House, Leazes Road, Durham DH1 1TA, UK; j.k.margetts{at}
  • Received 12 August 2012
  • Revised 12 August 2012
  • Accepted 21 September 2012
  • Published Online First 17 November 2012


Ongoing serious breaches in medical professionalism might be avoided if UK doctors rethink their approach to law. UK medical education has a role in creating a climate of change by re-examining how law is taught to medical students. Adopting a more insightful approach in the UK to the impact of The Human Rights Act and learning to manipulate legal concepts, such as conflict of interest, need to be taught to medical students now if UK doctors are to manage complex decision-making in the NHS of the future. The literature is reviewed from a unique personal perspective of a doctor and lawyer, and practical proposals for developing medical education in law in the UK are suggested.