Law as Clinical Evidence: A New Constitutive Model of Medical Education and Decision-Making

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 15(1), pp. 101-109.

17 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2018 Last revised: 18 Aug 2018

See all articles by Malcolm Parker

Malcolm Parker

University of Queensland - School of Medicine

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Gail Williams

University of Queensland

Colleen Cartwright

Southern Cross University

Date Written: January 21, 2018

Abstract

Over several decades, ethics and law have been applied to medical education and practice in a way that reflects the continuation during the twentieth century of the strong distinction between facts and values. We explain the development of applied ethics and applied medical law and report selected results that reflect this applied model from an empirical project examining doctors’ decisions on withdrawing/withholding treatment from patients who lack decision-making capacity. The model is critiqued, and an alternative “constitutive” model is supported on the basis that medicine, medical law, and medical ethics exemplify the inevitable entanglement of facts and values. The model requires that ethics and law be taught across the medical education curriculum and integrated with the basic and clinical sciences and that they be perceived as an integral component of medical evidence and practice. Law, in particular, would rank as equal in normative authority to the relevant clinical scientific “facts” of the case, with graduating doctors having as strong a basic command of each category as the other. The normalization of legal knowledge as part of the clinician’s evidence base to be utilized in practice may provide adequate consolation for clinicians who may initially resent further perceived incursions on their traditional independence and discretion.

Keywords: medical education, withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, medical law, doctors' knowledge of law, doctors' compliance with law

Suggested Citation

Parker, Malcolm and Willmott, Lindy and White, Ben and Williams, Gail and Cartwright, Colleen, Law as Clinical Evidence: A New Constitutive Model of Medical Education and Decision-Making (January 21, 2018). Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 15(1), pp. 101-109.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3106388 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3106388

Malcolm Parker

University of Queensland - School of Medicine ( email )

St Lucia
Queensland 4072
Australia

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Gail Williams

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Colleen Cartwright

Southern Cross University ( email )

Lismore, New South Wales 2480
Australia

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