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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Kelly A Carroll, JD (Saint Louis University)
Description: An overview of legal and ethical issues that arise in patient care, this book is a compendium of legal case excerpts and case studies on an array of clinical healthcare topics.
Purpose: It offers an excellent selection of pertinent case opinions, accompanied by news articles and summaries of cases settled out of court.
Audience: The author has designed this book for students and healthcare professionals, and uses terminology accessible to laypersons. It seems most useful as a companion book in an educational setting; it does not contain a great deal of introductory or explanatory material. For professionals looking for a quick reference, the case-based format might be too time-consuming, but the summary notes and appendixes might be of use. Written by a nonlawyer for nonlawyers, the book provides informative overviews of legal concepts, but these should not replace legal advice. The author uses legal terminology improperly in a few instances, and makes generalized statements concerning legal principles that may or may not apply in a given jurisdiction. However, the author served as a hospital surveyor for The Joint Commission for many years, and he possesses significant expertise in healthcare administration, as well as an MBA in that field.
Features: The cases are organized by topic in order of the patient's progression through the health system, and chapters cover employee and patient safety, accreditation, and criminal conduct. Discussion questions follow each case, as well as a "closet drama" featuring historical figures in a fictional courtroom dealing with ethical and legal issues. Appendixes and summary notes round out the book, featuring regulations and legal concepts relevant to specific health professions and issues. While the book includes a glossary of terms and discussion questions, it does not provide instruction on how to synthesize and apply ethical and legal cases to new situations, nor does it instruct readers on the hierarchy of legal authority.
Assessment: The detailed table of contents, the inclusion of underrepresented topics like discharge planning and human resources, and the thought-provoking discussion questions following each case make this a helpful and easy-to-use teaching tool. However, if an educator uses this book in teaching healthcare law to health professions students, the students would benefit from another resource that explains legal analysis and interpretation, types and weight of legal authority, and federal and state healthcare agencies and their spheres of oversight.