JDOC6272 The physician-patient relationship

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6272 / JDOC6272
Course name: The Physician-Patient Relationship
Programme offered under: LLM Programme / JD Programme
Semester: First
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Credit point value: 9 credits / 6 credits
Cap on student numbers: 50

1.2 Course description

The course examines in depth the legal relationship between the physician and the patient, with a particular focus on the basic ethical and legal duties and responsibilities owed by registered medical practitioners and other healthcare professionals (including dentists, pharmacists, nurses, medical social workers, counsellors, medical diagnostic professionals, clinical trials administrators and biomedical researchers) to their patients. The aim is to equip students with a sound understanding of the basic legal principles and doctrines underlying the legal and ethical responsibilities and duties owed to their patients.

In particular, the specific tort of medical negligence will be examined in detail, as well as claims in contract, particularly in relation to non-therapeutic or purely elective procedures. The applicable standard of care for all three elements of the global duty of a physician will be covered, with particular attention being paid to recent law reform in the areas of informed consent, adequacy of disclosure and information, as well as causation. The responsibilities and duties owed by entities such as hospitals, health insurance companies, employers will also be examined in the context of organizational and institutional liability and non-delegable duties in the provision of healthcare. The ethical and legal obligations of professionals in allied healthcare professions such as nursing, pharmacy and supporting medical therapies will also be covered.

Apart from medical negligence, the course will also deal with other important responsibilities of physicians such as the taking of consent from minors and incompetent patients; medical confidentiality and privacy of medical information and records; the refusal of treatment; an introduction to advance medical directives; the concept of medical futility and the withdrawal of treatment. Statutory obligations under the Medical Registration Ordinance and other relevant statutory instruments will also be covered, as well as an introduction to professional disciplinary proceedings. The course will cover disciplinary processes and fitness to practice, professional ethics, professional licensing and codes of conduct, and statutory and common law rules and concepts applicable to disciplinary proceedings.

Students will also be given an introduction to duties that are likely to arise with the advent and widespread adoption of new technologies in medical practice – for example, likely future developments in the standard of care in the context of genomic medicine, precision medicine, genetic testing and screening, gene editing and germ-line gene therapy.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Calvin Ho cwlho@hku.hk CCT 803 By email
Course convenor James Badenoch QC TBA TBA By email

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Students will be able to develop understanding of the fundamental common law principles and doctrines, as well as of the applicable legislative framework that governs the relationship of doctors and other professional healthcare providers to patients.

CLO 2 Students will be able to acquire a sound grounding in the law of negligence (particularly medical negligence) in the context of medical claims, relate legal principles, professional ethics and cultural factors to the rights and obligations of parties to the physician-patient relationship including those of third parties and review the concepts (and limits) of patient autonomy, competence, consent and refusal.

CLO 3 Students will be able to connect general legal principles to specific statutory and administrative regulation of the healthcare institutions and professions, disciplinary processes, and professional licensing.

CLO 4 Students will be able to critically examine questions of physician authority, paternalism, and issues of gender, race, class and their relation to access to care, power, and information in the medico-legal system.

CLO 5 Students will be able to review cases of conflict in physician-patient relations, including privacy and confidentiality, negligence, and financial conflict of interest and apply legal problem-solving techniques to work through cases and distinguish methodology, outcomes, risks, relationships, and moral principles from those used in clinical ethics.

2.2 LLM Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

PLO A On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of the body of legal knowledge and the capacity to conduct research on, critically analyse and evaluate legal principles, at a level required to meet the standards and expectations of the legal profession and the community at large.

PLO B On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to apply their legal knowledge and research skills to practical situations or theoretical challenges, and utilise their comparative understanding of the law and its political, social and cultural contexts to provide original and creative insights to legal problems.

PLO C On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to apply the knowledge, lawyering skills and legal reasoning to real and novel situations in life, with a view to resolving issues, problems and disputes within the legal parameters.

PLO D On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to present effectively legal arguments in the professional context, as well as conveying and explaining the law effectively to lay clients and members of the larger community.

PLO E On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to appreciate the underlying moral values of the law and ethics in the profession and the legal system in the broad social, economic, political and cultural contexts: justice, the Rule of Law, and protection of rights and liberties which form the fabrics of a civilised society, and the importance of upholding these values by the legal community.

PLO F On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to develop a strong awareness of social issues and conditions, and utilise analytical abilities and rhetorical advocacy to provide leadership for the betterment of the human community.

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course

CLO 1  ✓  ✓
CLO 2  ✓  ✓  ✓
CLO 2  ✓  ✓  ✓
CLO 4  ✓  ✓  ✓
CLO 5  ✓  ✓  ✓

3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Class participation (including reflection papers) TBC 30% 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Take home exam 23 Dec 2020 70% 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

To be advised by course convenor(s).

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/grading-criteria/

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 3 - 3.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

To be advised by course convenor(s).

5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle
Core reading list: TBA
Recommended reading list: TBA

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/

By the publication of the course profile online, the Faculty deems the student as having been notified of the course requirements.