Three academics from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have joined forces to produce the first book to comprehensively deal with important aspects of health law across every Australian jurisdiction.
Health Law in Australia, edited by Ben White, Fiona McDonald and Lindy Willmott, is the first text of its kind, as the complexity of health law has meant that previous books in this area have often focused on a limited number of states.
"We sought to do two things with this book," said Associate Professor White. "Firstly, we wanted to create a resource which summarises health law issues in every Australian jurisdiction, including the Commonwealth, where applicable. We also wanted the book to cover the wide range of issues that now come under the banner of health law."
The book begins with an exploration of the general principles of health law, including chapters on medical negligence; children and consent to medical treatment; and confidentiality, privacy, and access to health records. It also considers beginning-of-life and end-of-life issues before concluding with chapters on emerging areas in health law.
"From a legal perspective, there are many challenges in this rapidly changing area of law," said White.
"The provision and regulation of health services is occurring in an increasingly globalised context. For example, the book looks at the topical issue of regulating health professionals who are trained overseas but practise in Australia."
According to White, legal challenges also arise from the continued advancement of science and technology, such as human cloning.
Health Law in Australia also examines potential reform areas, including guardianship legislation, abortion law, surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology.
"The inconsistency from one state to another has sometimes led to patients travelling interstate for treatment," said White.
"But it is not just national perspectives that are relevant to law reform. Given the globalised context of healthcare provision, it is critical to examine how other jurisdictions around the world have grappled with the complex questions thrown up by health law."