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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Claudia Niersbach, RN, BSN, JD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This handbook on legal problems in emergency medicine is divided into two sections: part one discusses problematic issues and ways to avoid problems and part two reviews the current law of England and Wales.
Purpose: The purpose is to identify practical problems in emergency medicine and apply the current parliamentary laws as guidance for handling problems.
Audience: The intended audience is the emergency medicine physician in the U.K. The book may also be used as a resource by nurses, hospital administrators, risk managers, or attorneys, especially hospital legal counsel. The book is authored by an emergency medicine physician who has practiced law within the English court system, with contributions by a practicing solicitor.
Features: The book is not illustrated, but key points are clearly documented within all of the chapters. Additionally, legal citations or case law are clearly highlighted so that the reader can easily identify pertinent references. This is a 1996 publication and the references are current. The table of contents and index provide a quick and useful reference for specific areas of interest. The format of the chapters, references, and flow charts provide for ease of reading and assimilation of information.
Assessment: This is a well-written book and easy-to-use reference on the topic, but it is not a useful reference for physicians practicing outside England and Wales. The laws referenced are from the English court system and have no legal effect in other countries. Certain information will be misleading and may actually cause legal difficulties if a U.S. physician followed the guidance provided. One example is the frequent references to Gillick v. West Norfolk and Wishbeck, which allows a minor "capable of full understanding and appreciation of the intended to consequences..." to consent for treatment. This is not a medical/legal standard currently accepted within the U.S. Another example is the American standard for medical negligence requires a fourth additional element, that of causation direct or proximate, not included here. Even though I personally enjoyed reading this book and found it an informative reference to the British medical/legal system, it should be read for interest only by U.S. readers and not as the informative reference intended.