Medical law, a specialty of law, is all about responsibilities and privileges allotted to medical practitioners and entitlements of patients. It is totally different from medical jurisprudence that is a medical subdivision, not of law. Both health care practitioners and patients are governed by medical law, which is intended to safeguard the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
Medical law is the branch of law which concerns the prerogatives and responsibilities of medical professionals and the rights of the patient. It should not be confused with medical jurisprudence, which is a branch of medicine, rather than a branch of law. Though medical law covers a huge range of specialties, but it is generally divided into three main branches:
- Criminal Law
- Medical Negligence
All these divisions of medical law not only help the medical practitioners who are being wrongfully blamed for medical negligence, they also help to bring all those medical professionals to justice who maltreated the patients under their care.
Under confidentiality division, medical law requires all medical professionals to keep confidential all sensitive medical info about their patients – divulging this information to non-relevant people is unlawful. In addition to a legal requirement, it is also an ethical act to maintain confidence level about patient’s medical info. Thus, if any health care professional reveals patient’s medical record, he is breaching confidentiality law. However, this law has some exceptions as well, including:
- Revealing patient’s medical records on his consent
- Sharing this information with some other medical body
- Make patient’s medical info open so as to save him/her from further injuries or fatalities
Confidentiality law has numerous branches in place, such as confidentiality existing between employer and his employees, and confidentiality existing between lawyer and his clients. Medical confidentiality, however, is most renowned and common type of this law. Though, specific agreements and contracts are required in confidentiality law, there is no such binding for medical confidentiality. It is generally expected that medical professionals will keep their patients’ medical info confidential. Medical confidentiality is considered an important characteristic of medical profession. That is the reason, many practitioners hold it in high esteems, and also take it as their ethical and moral obligation.
Criminal law is a division of medical law that deals with all those medical professionals who are guilty of committing some criminal exploitation of their patients. For instance, the practitioners who carry out some medical treatment without taking patient’s consent are criminally accountable under this law. This law works on a criminal code according to which medical professionals accused of committing some wrongdoing against their patients are punished like criminals. The guilty practitioners then have to face legal proceedings and may be jailed as punishment.
Medical negligence/medical malpractice refers to the acts of carelessness on part of medical professionals that result in some injury to the patients under their care. The victims of such negligent medical treatments are entitled to take legal help against their damages posed by healthcare providers. Such cases are dealt under the category of ‘Personal Injury Claims’.
There are certain medical standards that must be complied with while providing medical care and treatments to patients. Any instance of providing substandard medical care is taken as a medical negligence, and the offender must be accountable for breaching his medical duty.
Whether medical negligence of a healthcare provider leads to patient’s injuries or death, the victims are entitled to pursue negligence compensation claims. The responsible practitioner has to be liable for their negligent practice. The hospitals and other healthcare institutes where such careless treatment has been provided are also charged with medical negligence.