Title

Defining Health Law or the Edgewood Syndrome

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

ISSN

0870-9025

Publisher

Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública

Abstract

The authors' main purpose is to present ideas on defining Health Law by highlighting the particularities of the field of Health Law as well as of the teaching of this legal branch, hoping to contribute to the maturity and academic recognition of Health Law, not only as a very rich legal field but also as a powerful social instrument in the fulfillment of fundamental human rights. The authors defend that Health Law has several characteristics that distinguish it from traditional branches of law such as its complexity and multidisciplinary nature. The study of Health Law normally covers issues such as access to care, health systems organization, patients' rights, health professionals' rights and duties, strict liability, healthcare contracts between institutions and professionals, medical data protection and confidentiality, informed consent and professional secrecy, crossing different legal fields including administrative, antitrust, constitutional, contract, corporate, criminal, environmental, food and drug, intellectual property, insurance, international and supranational, labor/employment, property, taxation, and tort law. This is one of the reasons why teaching Health Law presents a challenge to the teacher, which will have to find the programs, content and methods appropriate to the profile of recipients which are normally non jurists and the needs of a multidisciplinary curricula. By describing academic definitions of Health Law as analogous to Edgewood, a fiction house which has a different architectural style in each of its walls, the authors try to describe which elements should compose a more comprehensive definition. In this article Biolaw, Bioethics and Human Rights are defined as complements to a definition of Health Law: Biolaw because it is the legal field that treats the social consequences that arise from technological advances in health and life sciences; Bioethics which evolutions normally influence the shape of the legal framework of Health; and, finally Human Rights theory and declarations are outlined as having always been historically linked to medicine and health, being the umbrella that must cover all the issues raised in the area of Health Law.…

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