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Medical law inevitably involves decision-making, but the types of decisions that need to be made vary in nature, from those that are purely technical to others that contain an inherent ethical content. In this paper we identify the different types of decisions that need to be made, and explore whether the law, the medical profession, or the individual doctor is best placed to make them. We also argue that the law has failed in its duty to create a coherent foundation from which such decision-making might properly be regulated, and this has resulted in a haphazard legal framework that contains no consistency. We continue by examining various medico-legal topics in relation to these issues before ending by considering the risk of demoralisation.

Original publication




Journal article


Med Law Rev

Publication Date





505 - 530


Medical law, de-moralisation, decision-making, medical ethics, morals, Bioethics, Decision Making, Ethics, Medical, Humans, Legislation, Medical, Minors, Morals, Patient Rights, Personal Autonomy, Refusal to Treat, Resource Allocation, State Medicine, Treatment Refusal, United Kingdom