Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

HEAL seminar: 11 February Bernadette Richards on ‘Exploring a duty to encourage innovative treatment’

In Key Legal Concepts, Meetings on January 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

On 11 February 2015, we’re delighted to welcome Dr Bernadette Richards, Associate Professor, Law School, University of Adeleide to speak on ‘Exploring a duty to encourage innovative treatment’. This seminar will run from 1pm in room 4005/4.  All welcome.


On the 27th July 2006 Bethany Bowen died during an elective laparoscopic splenectomy. It was later determined that the cause of death was the unauthorised use of a surgical instrument approved for gynaecological use but without any supporting research or approval for paediatric use.  She died as a result of misguided and misinformed surgical innovation.  When innovation fails and patients suffer significant harm questions are raised about the appropriateness of such innovation and there are public calls for safeguards.  The media is filled with demands of legal intervention to make sure that tragedies such as this never happen again.  Minds quickly turn to ways to control innovation and protect patients, implicit in many recommendations is a view that innovation is bad and causes harm.  However, this is not the case. There is a role to be played by the law in the process of introducing new medical and surgical procedures but care must be taken to avoid the temptation to introduce policy that stifles innovation, such a policy would be against the broad public interest in a functioning healthcare system.

This seminar will explore the appropriate parameters of surgical innovation and assert that the law must not stifle innovation, rather it must encourage and support responsible innovation (this will include critical consideration of the Medical Innovation Bill (the Saatchi Bill).  It will demonstrate that it is consistent with the medical duty of care to identify a duty to encourage medical advancement, to ensure that we look to the future and seek improved medical  care.

Final Summary Report for ESRC series on ‘Criminalizing of Disease Transmission’

In Conferences, funded research, Gratuitous self-promotion, Meetings on January 19, 2015 at 8:30 am

David Gurnham (HEAL and ICJR, University of Southampton) has recently completed an ESRC-funded series of seminars in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Manchester (Catherine Stanton and Hannah Quirk) focusing on the criminalization of disease transmission. Their final summary report is now completed and will be available via the HEAL and ICJR websites, and direct from this link: Criminalizing Contagion_summary_report_Nov_2014. The seminars, which took place at the Universities of Southampton and Manchester from January 2012 until September 2014 addressed a series of questions: how should the law treat a person who transmits a serious infection such as HIV, or exposes others to the risk of infection? For example, should such a person be treated as a criminal, in the same way as someone who injures another?

In this seminar series, we have tried to highlight and explore some of the most pressing implications that the deprivation of a person’s liberty in response to infectious disease transmission has for a number of professional and public organisations. While we did not identify any one view on criminalization, we heard and read strong criticism of the use of criminal sanctions in this context, as well as defences of criminal sanctions in some circumstances.

As well as academic scholars approaching the subject from criminal law and criminal justice, healthcare and ethics perspectives, the seminars establish a link with four key organizations, all of which are involved in one or more of relevant policy engagement, legal reform and clinical practice. These are Amnesty International, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH – an organization made up of professionals working in sexual health), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Law Commission. With the exception of Amnesty, we have had representations from each of them, alongside participants across a range of other relevant organizations and institutions at the seminars.

A number of different sorts of publications have arisen from the seminars: academic papers presented at the seminar have been or will soon be published across a number of formats (special journal issues, a book of collected essays); article contributions by practicing medical and healthcare experts have been published in response to a call for papers in three British Medical Journal Group journals; papers have been published by David Gurnham and Catherine Stanton in response to the themes explored in the seminars. For full details of publications and paper presentations, see the Criminalizing Contagion_summary_report_Nov_2014.

HEAL Seminar: 14 January 2015, with Isra Black speaking on ‘Best interests (physician) assisted death’

In 2015, Best interests, Death and dying, Meetings on January 12, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Happy new year to you all.

We kick off 2015 with a HEAL seminar this week, with Isra Black from King’s College London speaking on ‘Best interests (physician) assisted death’. Isra can also be found on Twitter @israblack.

Abstract I propose a model for assisted death based on two criteria: (i) that P has made an autonomous decision; (ii) that assisted death is in P’s best interests. I argue that there is legislative space for this model despite autonomy being the principal focus of the majority of the Supreme Court in Nicklinson. I also claim that this model for physician assisted death could be brought within the medical exception, therefore bypassing the need for legislation. Finally, I attempt to show that best interests physician assisted death would be preferable to an ‘autonomy only’ model, or a model that took a medical condition or status (such as terminal illness) as a substantive criterion.

The seminar will begin at 4pm on Wednesday 14 January in room 2055, building 4 (Law staff room). All welcome.