Health Law: Scope, Sources and Forces
White, Ben, McDonald, Fiona, & Willmott, Lindy (Eds.) Health Law in Australia (Third Edition). Thomson Reuters, Pyrmont, New South Wales, pp. 3-23, Forthcoming
Posted: 27 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 3, 2018
For the purposes of this chapter, “health law” encapsulates regulation of the medical and health professions, the administration of health services and the maintenance of public health to the extent that it is connected to the provision of health services. There are diverging views as to whether health law can be regarded as a discrete “area of law”. Health law draws on other areas of law such as tort law, criminal law and family law. It also draws upon other disciplines, most notably medical and health ethics. Social and economic forces have influenced the development and direction of health law, and these forces may become even more influential in the future. The increasingly globalised world has implications for Australia’s health systems and raises questions and creates commitments in respect of the international community. Technological developments, including in respect of treatment, diagnosis and information management, create ongoing challenges for health law. Patient rights, human rights and consumerism are increasingly key drivers in the development of health law. Health law is significant to contemporary Australian society because of the gravity of the topics that fall within its ambit, its social relevance to so many aspects of human existence and endeavour, the important role it plays in protecting the vulnerable, and the extent to which it engages with fundamental principles of justice.
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