Bioethics and the Law is designed to provide grounding in basic legal obligations related to bioethical concerns. Legal obligations are evaluated in terms of moral requirements.
The course typically begins with an overview of basic bioethics, covering basic moral points of view, principles in bioethics, informed consent, autonomy and competence. Also, an overview of basic law is usually provided.
The following legal issues are covered as they relate to bioethical concerns:
Right to care
- Standard of care and medical negligence
- Informed consent
- Informed refusal
- Mental health
- Human reproduction
- Organ transplantation
- Health care allocation
Because American law is case based, we frequently read court cases. Often assignments involve an evaluation of cases. Sometimes students may be required to present a different case
Statutes vary from state to state, and so they play a less significant role in the course. However, uniform codes, for example, relating to the determination of death and to organ procurement have been widely adopted and so play a larger role in the course.
The typical instructor will require about 12 assignments. These tend to be short. Students may be required to respond to the assignments of other students. A longer midterm and final may be required. Depending on the instructor, a final paper may also be required. On the undergraduate level, this is a writing course, and so special University writing requirements apply.
This course has been taught by Professors DeMarco and Harvey.
Example of a weekly assignment.
For this assignment, please read Tarasoff, 17 Cal.3d 425. This is a well-known case which asserts a psychologist's or psychiatrist's responsibility, in certain circumstances, to disclose otherwise confidential information. It may extend generally to health care professionals. However, Clark, in his dissent, says: "Given the importance of confidentiality to the practice of psychiatry, it becomes clear the duty to warn imposed by the majority will cripple the use and effectiveness of psychiatry." Do you think that Tarasoff goes too far in terms of violating confidentiality, not far enough, or is just right? Give your reasons.
Screen capture from a typical class "Lesson" page:
This page last modified Wednesday, August 22, 2012