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Medicolegal issues 

Medicolegal issues
Chapter:
Medicolegal issues
Author(s):

Elizabeth Combeer

, Rehana Iqbal

, and Steve Yentis

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198713333.003.0029
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date: 01 December 2020

Medical law relating to obstetric anaesthesia has unique issues. There are legal implications of caring for two patients simultaneously, mother and fetus, and issues may arise when the welfare of one is in conflict with that of the other. This chapter addresses the extent to which a woman can be forced to consider the needs of her fetus, case law relating to enforced caesarean sections, and the current legal position. Although the majority of expectant mothers have capacity, there are situations where this may not be the case. Law concerning the care of teenage obstetric patients, the difficult areas of capacity and consent in labour, and the role of birth plans are therefore explored. Fundamental topics in medical law such as battery, negligence, manslaughter, and confidentiality are addressed, in addition to law relating to the teaching and supervision of junior medical staff, and clinical research and its publication. The chapter also considers areas of developing importance such as the legal implication of clinical guidelines and the degree to which these may be viewed as a standard of care. Finally, the chapter offers, where possible, the obstetric anaesthetist some practical guidance on incorporating the current legal position in these key areas of medical law into everyday practice.

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