Education and licencing requirements, civil lawsuits involving doctors or their staff (such as lawsuits for malpractice or negligence), criminal cases where doctors are called as expert witnesses, duties involving birth or death certificates, and duties to report diseases and suspected abuse are all included in the field of medical law. State governments often handle the administration of laws pertaining to various facets of medical practice. The regulation of controlled substances (narcotics), laws concerning ethical hiring and employment practices, occupational safety and health, and workers’ compensation, as well as laws governing credit reporting and debt collection, practises, are just a few examples of federal laws that have an impact on medical practice.
Medical law is obviously quite complex because it incorporates elements of many various legal disciplines, including criminal law, human rights law, tort law, contract law, family law, etc. The practice of medical law is changing drastically. Due to the speed at which science is progressing, attorneys and ethicists must continuously address new problems. There have been numerous laws and regulations dealing with medical laws, such as the Family Planning Policy, the Surrogacy Bill, laws governing abortion and sex tests, etc.; yet, the difficulty they present is not only a matter of liberal vs conservative viewpoints.
Some of the duties and responsibilities of the physician are –
- Maintaining a good medical practice
- Maintenance of medical records
- Highest quality assurance in patient care
- Patience, delicacy and secrecy
- Patients should not be neglected
- Unnecessary consultations should be avoided
- Punctuality in Consultation
- Not to conduct a sex determination test
- Advertising is not allowed
- Contravening cosmetics and drugs act is not allowed
- Reporting to call for emergency, military situations
- Reporting of suspected causes of death
- There should be informed consent from the patient
- Running an open medical shop is not allowed.
The body of laws governing the duties and rights of medical professionals and their patients is known as medical law. Confidentiality, negligence and other medical treatment-related torts, particularly medical malpractice, as well as criminal law and ethics are the key topics of attention for medical law.
- Confidentiality: Since the English Common Law, medical doctors and other health care providers have had a tradition of maintaining patient confidentiality. This custom, however, has recently been formalised, so anything a patient says to a physician or mental health professional during a diagnosis or treatment is privileged and secret unless the person displays an impending desire to harm themselves or others. Because of the introduction of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, this secrecy has been strengthened and increased. This federal law established a number of legal protections to, among other things, guarantee the confidentiality of a patient’s medical and mental health information in order to address a number of challenges related to the increasingly mobile and connected character of our culture. The Act established a variety of new, explicit rules regarding disclosures, information exchange methods, and maintaining patient privacy. The Act carries a heavy penalty for violations.
- Negligence and Other Torts: A professional who diagnoses and treats patients is held to a higher standard than a bystander who offers assistance. One of the main areas of medical law is medical malpractice, which deals with the responsibility of a medical professional for negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient that results in harm or death. However, there are other torts that do enter the area of medical law. For instance, if a medical expert incorrectly divulges misleading information regarding a patient’s health, this could be defamation of the patient. Another instance of battery is when a treatment is administered to a person who has declined it (often for religious reasons).
- Crime and Ethics: In recent years, criminal law and ethics have played a significant role in medical law. Concerns about the ethical and criminal responsibilities of medical professionals in the trafficking of restricted medications have been highlighted by the emergence of so-called “pill mills.” Other instances have included well-known cases of people being put to death by lethal injection and being sexually assaulted while under anaesthesia.
There are numerous legislations which have been formed and are currently in implementation in India. Following are the categories under which the legislations are grouped together –
- Laws Related to Governing the Commissioning of Hospital
- Laws Governing the Qualifications / Practice and Conduct of Professionals
- Laws Governing Storage / Sale of Drugs and Safe Medication
- Laws Governing Biomedical Research
- Laws Governing to Management of Patients
- Laws Governing Medico-Legal Aspects
- Law Governing the Safety of Patients, Public and Staff within the Hospital Premises and Environmental Protection
- Laws Governing the Safety of Patients, Public and Staff within the Hospital Premises
- Laws Governing the Employment of Manpower
- Laws Governing Professional Training and Research
- Regulations Governing the Business Aspects of Hospital