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Overview of Medical Law Courses and Classes

Courses in medical law or health law provide an overview of the legal issues and concerns affecting health care providers and patients. Read on for descriptions of some commonly available courses and find out which programs often include these courses in the curriculum.

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Essential Information

Medical law or health law courses are most often offered within JD (Juris Doctor) and dual degree programs, such as a JD/MPH (Master of Public Health) at some law schools. Other master's degree programs in areas such as health policy offer relevant coursework. In addition, some law schools offer concentrations or summer internships in health law.

Some common concepts covered in health law courses include:

  • Aging law and end-of-life care
  • Health care marketplace
  • Psychiatry and criminal law
  • Public health law
  • Reproductive law
  • Global health policies

List of Typical Courses

Fundamentals of Health Law Course

Instructors introduce students to the legal issues surrounding health care providers and their patients. Topics include the patient-physician relationship, health care costs, licensure, accreditation and bioethics. This course examines U.S. laws that govern the practice of medicine and how they impact the delivery of health care. Individuals learn to identify legal issues relating to health care operations.

Health Law and Bioethics Course

Students learn about ethical issues that arise from advances in medical technology and biological science. The course looks at the responsibilities and legal rights of health care providers, patients and lawmakers. Included topics are the right to die, the right to health care, the use of genetic information and reproductive issues. Students discuss the emergence of bioethics in the 20th century and the contemporary issues it presents today.

Mental Health Law Course

Individuals discuss the legal issues related to the rights and treatment of mentally ill persons. This course reviews such topics as the insanity defense, the right to refuse treatment, competency to stand trial and psychiatric malpractice. Professors use examples of real life cases.

Health Care and Medical Malpractice Course

This course looks at how medical malpractice liability plays a large role in the regulation of health care quality in the U.S. Participants review different areas, such as professional licensure, malpractice liability and physician-patient relationships. Students explore the internal and external regulation of health care facilities, including staff privileges and accreditation.

Human Subject Research and the Law Course

Individuals discuss the current regulation of human subjects for research and the accompanying legal and ethical concerns that come with it. This course focuses on informed consent, risk-benefit assessment, recruitment and targeted populations. Also covered are issues created by the development of new technologies, such as stem cell research, genomics, nanotechnology and genetic engineering. The class reviews the conflict of interest that arises in research funding.

Pharmaceuticals and Law Course

This introductory course looks at the policy and legal issues surrounding the pharmaceutical industry. Participants discuss the regulatory net that governs drug development and approval, as well as the legal controls in place guiding biopharmaceuticals in government health care programs. They learn about fraud and abuse in this industry. Policy issues are also studied, such as expanded coverage for the uninsured, cost containments, product liability and intellectual property.

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