Official Partner The Royal Society of Medicine



Whether you are a medical student wondering what all the legal jargon means, or a practicing doctor who thinks they might be involved in a breach of the law, ethical conundrum, or difficult working situation, these medico-legal factsheets should be of use. These factsheets provide an overview of the topics they cover, and should form the basis for a larger and more thorough investigation. If you are in an ethical or legal dilemma then you should seek the help of a professional adviser or appropriate senior colleague.

Assisting with Legal Stances

Factsheets such as these are available from the BMA, and they are designed to assist doctors who may be in trouble with the law, or in a confusing position with a patient. For example, some doctors, and especially General Practitioners, often find themselves on very friendly terms with patients they have known for a number of years – potentially leading to infringements of professionalism on the part of doctor, or on the part of the patient. Consulting these factsheets could help a doctor understand their role in such a situation, or whether or not they had ethical or legal grounds to be concerned about another – be this a patient behaving inappropriately, or a colleague.

Definition of Terms

In addition to the assistance medico-legal factsheets may provide in the event of a professional problem, they are also useful as a thesaurus for medical terms such as capacity or competence. Terms such as these are widely-understood by many, at least in part, but many medical professionals may require more specific definitions if dealing with complex problems. These factsheets will be updated regularly to reflect the current understanding of each of the terms, and developing issues such as those surrounding gender identity, and the medical status of those who are trans-identifying.



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