Would responsible medical lawyers lose their patients?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This essay presents an analytic approach to understanding patients' responsibilities. Prompted by arguments in Margaret Brazier's article 'Do No Harm--Do Patients Have Responsibilities Too?', the paper demonstrates how medical lawyers can attempt to answer the questions Brazier raises, particularly regarding the translation of ethical responsibilities into legal ones. It suggests that the expansive nature of medical law as a discipline renders increasingly unhelpful the paradigm 'autonomous patients' found in a narrowly understood medical ethics. The great variety of contexts in which analysis takes place--some more, and some less 'medical'--implies a need in each case to presume that there might be radical variation in the responsibilities (legal and ethical) of different patients. It is therefore argued that instead of a one-size-fits-all paradigm of 'patients', always possessive of the same rights and freedoms, medical lawyers must be prepared to conduct analysis around more particular, nuanced concepts of the patient, and ultimately in a frame of legal and political rather than moral theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-49
Number of pages20
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Patient Rights
  • Personal Autonomy


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