Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Medical ethics and law—surviving on the wards and passing exams
  1. M Quigley

    Statistics from Altmetric.com

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

    Edited by Sokol DK, Bergson G. London: Published by Trauma Publishing, 2005, £14.95, pp 293. ISBN 0-95476-571-0

    Yet another medical ethics book has been published, but the difference this time is that I actually like it Sokol and Bergson’s handbook Medical ethics and law—surviving on the wards and passing exams is for medical students and junior doctors preparing for life in medicine and for the inevitable exams. The format of the book closely follows that of the core curriculum for medical ethics and law set out by the BMA in 2004 in Medical ethics today. The book covers a diverse range of topics from staples such as consent and confidentiality through to research, genetics and rights.

    The authors use humour well to keep the reader’s attention and explain ethical concepts. These concepts are often presented as being more simplistic than they are and at times only scrape the surface of moral argument. This, however, is inevitable when trying to squeeze so much into a limited space. Although generally a good read, the book is not without its flaws.

    On the ethical side there is perhaps an over-reliance on Beauchamp and Childress’ “four principles”. Although the authors briefly outline the major ethical theories before plumping for principalism, they have not provided the reader with any real alternative framework for their moral deliberations. On the positive side, however, they do point out to the reader that principles on their own do not equate with moral analysis and that any healthcare decisions must be accompanied by justified reasoning.

    Although some of the law quoted is no longer up to date, owing to the fast pace of change in the law it is accepted with all legal writing that as soon as it is published it will be obsolete. This problem is redoubled by some of the major changes that have taken place in the discipline of medical law recently. As such, the book is bereft of any mention of the two new Acts of Parliament: the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Human Tissue Act 2004. Any one reading this book for examination purposes needs to be especially aware of the 2004 Human Tissue Act, as this replaces the Human Tissue Act 1961 and the Human Organs Transplant Act 1989.

    I would certainly recommend this book for the readership at which it is aimed (medical students and junior doctors). It will give them a simple, well laid-out structure to think about the everyday ethical dilemmas that are encountered in medical practice, although further reading will be necessary to examine any of the topics in depth. They will find the section on answering exam questions in this area particularly useful. My recommendation comes with the caveat that the reader will need to do some further study to ensure that they are up to date with current legal developments.

    Edited by Sokol DK, Bergson G. London: Published by Trauma Publishing, 2005, £14.95, pp 293. ISBN 0-95476-571-0

    Reference

    Other content recommended for you