Emerging Health Technologies

Canadian Health Law and Policy, pp. 509-538

34 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2008

See all articles by Ian R. Kerr

Ian R. Kerr

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Timothy Caulfield

University of Alberta - Health Law Institute

Date Written: November, 17 2008


This chapter, which is part of the third edition of the well known Canadian text, Canadian Health Law and Policy, briefly surveys four emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on Canadian health law and policy in the coming years. The chapter commences with a consideration of the Human Genome Project and how social policy might contend with the possibility of genetic discrimination. Then, it examines Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as a means of linking an unconscious or disoriented patient to an electronic health record and the potential privacy implications of doing so. Next, the chapter investigates stem cell research and the questions it raises about the challenges associated with making policy in a morally contested area. Finally, it contemplates issues not yet articulated in a field not yet defined: nanotechnology and how to regulate against potentially catastrophic harms that are not yet understood.

The aim of the chapter is not so much to prioritize or predict as it is to offer a new lens through which to consider various fundamental legal and ethical principles and their application to health law and policy in novel situations. Rather than providing comprehensive coverage of all known technologies or every issue that might possibly arise, the authors have chosen to sample a particular array of current and future technologies, presenting each alongside a core health law precept or principle. After surveying these four emerging technologies and the issues they raise, the chapter ends with a brief consideration of issues associated with how science and technology are transferred from the laboratory to the community through the process of commercialization. The authors considered how scientific research is transformed into technological applications through the process of commercialization. When the governance of science and the proper place of technology in our health care system is considered, it is important to recognize that the technologies that science enables are not neutral and that it is therefore not always appropriate to leave science to its own devices.

Keywords: Human Genome Project, genetics, Radio Frequency Identification, RFID, Stem cells, nanotechnology, health technology, health law, discrimination, consent, precautionary principle

Suggested Citation

Kerr, Ian R. and Caulfield, Timothy, Emerging Health Technologies (November, 17 2008). Canadian Health Law and Policy, pp. 509-538. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1303187

Ian R. Kerr (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 (Phone)

Timothy Caulfield

University of Alberta - Health Law Institute ( email )

Law Centre
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H5

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