A smaller version of this book was published in 1994 as Law and Ethics in Medicine for Doctors in Victoria and was very well received in that state. It was produced to help meet the need for doctors to be more informed of the ethical and legal obligations of medical practice. Since then, national debate on topics such as consent, compensating patients for adverse events in medical practice, sexual misconduct by doctors and euthanasia has reinforced this need. In addition there are changes occurring in the delivery of health services, in education for health care providers and in the regulation of the medical profession about which practising doctors need to be informed. Parallel with these changes is the gradual increase in interest and understanding by the community of its health care needs and rights. Associated with this is the community's determination to have an appropriate say in matters such as the utilisation of health care resources and the determination of medical professional standards, and its desire for individuals to be adequately informed and involved in decisions regarding their own health. This book does not directly address all these changes, but much of its content is informed by them as reflected in chapters referring to the increasing involvement of community members in the regulatory processes of the medical profession, the development of more accessible patient complaint handling mechanisms and changes which are occurring to medical education and the selection of medical students.
Against this background, and in response to interest expressed throughout Australia for this type of resource for doctors in other states, the authors embarked on a major rewrite of their original book. The present book is updated, expanded and reorganised to reflect as fully as possible the current legal and ethical obligations of daily medical practice. This update is intended to be pragmatic, accessible and informative and primarily directed to doctors in the making and doctors in practice.