Clinicians must practice medicine in conformity with regulatory requirements. That is the daily challenge, and those requirements have been founded on medical law.

This book describes clinical law. A series of 62 brief commentaries are described, each setting out an important clinical legal case decided in an English court. The clinical relevance of the judgement is explained, together with how it should influence the care of the patient. Clinical readers are given skeleton guidance by their regulators, but almost no specific tuition as to how to apply it. This book sets out how clinical law has been applied in numerous cases, and thus provides guidance which is directly applicable to every clinician’s practice in the United Kingdom.

Although most court cases concentrate on the medical aspects of patients’ care, the common currencies within clinical law touch on all clinical professions. Doctors, physiotherapists and others take consent every day; pharmacists must protect confidentiality; speech therapists consider the capacity of their patients; and nurses wrestle with discussions relating to whether their patients wish to be resuscitated

The book is directed at members of the eight regulated clinical professions, the lawyers who deal with disputes, and all potential patients.

About the Author

Robert Wheeler, RCS MS LLB(Hons) LLM is a Consultant Neonatal and Paediatric Surgeon. He is the Associate Medical Director for the Department of Clinical Law, University Hospital of Southampton, Southampton Hampshire, England and Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Southampton.


chapter Chapter 1|3 pages

Adults Who Refuse Blood

chapter Chapter 3|3 pages

What Should Be Disclosed When Seeking Consent

chapter Chapter 4|2 pages

Deprivation in Essex

chapter Chapter 5|2 pages

The First Glimpse of a Duty to Warn?

chapter Chapter 6|2 pages

Can a Patient Choose Her Surgeon?

chapter Chapter 7|2 pages


chapter Chapter 8|2 pages

Unwise Decisions

chapter Chapter 9|2 pages

Consulting Relatives

chapter Chapter 10|2 pages

Doctrine of Double Effect

chapter Chapter 11|2 pages

Needle Phobia

chapter Chapter 12|2 pages

Candid over Complications

chapter Chapter 13|2 pages

Examining Patients with Their Consent

chapter Chapter 14|2 pages

Covert Treatment

chapter Chapter 16|2 pages

Genetic Confidentiality

chapter Chapter 17|2 pages

Refusing Hospital Discharge

chapter Chapter 18|2 pages

Consent for a Cannula

chapter Chapter 19|2 pages

Changing Direction in Severe Anorexia

chapter Chapter 20|2 pages

Be Informed; Then Disclose

chapter Chapter 21|2 pages

Withdrawing Treatment in a Young Man

chapter Chapter 22|2 pages

The Value of Going to Court

chapter Chapter 23|2 pages

Articulating Best Interests

chapter Chapter 24|2 pages

Loyal Friends

chapter Chapter 25|3 pages

Apply to Court?

chapter Chapter 26|3 pages

Disclosing the Miniscule Risk When Seeking Consent

chapter Chapter 27|2 pages

Obtaining Consent

chapter Chapter 28|2 pages

Deprivation of Liberty: The Story So Far

chapter Chapter 29|2 pages

Falling from Hospital Property

chapter Chapter 31|2 pages


chapter Chapter 32|2 pages

A Narrow Dispute

chapter Chapter 33|2 pages

A Right to Be Told?

chapter Chapter 34|2 pages

‘But All Life Is an Experiment’

chapter Chapter 35|2 pages

Avoid Discouraging Patients from Waiting to Be Treated

chapter Chapter 36|2 pages

Mixed Messages

chapter Chapter 37|2 pages

It Is for Clinicians to Identify Foreseeable Risks

chapter Chapter 38|2 pages

Separating Twins

chapter Chapter 39|2 pages

Body Modification

chapter Chapter 40|2 pages

Seeking the Approval of a Court for Paternity Testing

chapter Chapter 41|3 pages

Children Refusing Treatment

chapter Chapter 42|3 pages

Can We Rely on Our Advance Decisions?

chapter Chapter 43|2 pages

Is There a Role for ‘Next of Kin’?

chapter Chapter 44|2 pages

Preaching to Patients

chapter Chapter 45|2 pages

Deceiving Patients

chapter Chapter 46|2 pages

Determining Incapacity

chapter Chapter 47|2 pages

Reasons for Refusing Blood?

chapter Chapter 48|2 pages

Justifying the Termination of a Pregnancy

chapter Chapter 49|2 pages

The Feasibility of a Covert Caesarean Section

chapter Chapter 50|2 pages

Communicating Risk: Words or Numbers?

chapter Chapter 51|2 pages

Stark Compulsion in Grave Circumstances

chapter Chapter 52|2 pages

Going to Court Too Soon

chapter Chapter 53|3 pages

Best Interests in the Absence of Suffering

chapter Chapter 54|2 pages

Patients Value Candour

chapter Chapter 57|2 pages

Vulnerable with Capacity

chapter Chapter 58|2 pages

Compulsory Treatment for Diabetes

chapter Chapter 59|2 pages

Approving Palliation

chapter Chapter 60|2 pages

Acquiescence; Not Consent

chapter Chapter 61|2 pages

Making Clinical Legal Decisions

chapter Chapter 62|2 pages

ABC: A Duty to Balance Conflicting Interests