Medical law is the branch of law, which concerns itself with the prerogatives and responsibilities of medical professionals and the rights of the patient. It should not be confused with medical jurisprudence, which is a branch of medicine, rather than a branch of law.
The main branches of medical law are the law on confidentiality, negligence and torts in relation to medical treatment (most notably medical malpractice), and criminal law in the field of medical practice and treatment. Ethics and medical practice is a growing field. What is legal however is not necessarily ethical and what is ethical is not necessarily legal.
The first medical law recorded was the Code of Hammurabi, which said; “If a physician makes a large incision with the operating knife, and kills him, … his hands shall be cut off.” A bit harsh, but I think we get the message between what is legal and what is ethical.
A more up to date and contentious issue can be found in laws surrounding Abortion – I have included a section addressing this specific area opposite.
Nowadays, Medical Law is fast becoming a sub-specialty within Tort Law. It is fast developing and growing as new scientific developments are discovered and sustaining life for longer is becoming possible. I hope to keep this section as up to date as possible but please feel free to update me and send me some links as well.