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Transforming wrong(s) into right(s): The power of ‘proper medical treatment’

Project: Non-funded ProjectProjects

1/09/1330/09/13

In this one day seminar, funded by the Wellcome Trust, we seek to explore the notion of something being ‘proper medical treatment’; the medical exception discussed in R v Brown, R v Bland and by the Law Commission in 1994. What renders an activity legitimate when otherwise it would not be? Ignoring the ethics surrounding any particular treatment, what is it about (and why is it that) X but not Y is regarded as proper medical treatment? Are there (and what are the) inherent differences between X and Y which result in this different (formal or informal) categorisation? Do the ethical issues raised by X account for the different categorisation, or are other factors relevant? For example, if a doctor carries out X does this automatically make it proper medical treatment? What role does patient demand have in this regard; are doctors merely to serve the public and their wants and desires, but what then of professional autonomy and clinical judgement? Are the motivations for performing X relevant? Do some medical treatments become accepted as proper through custom and practice and because some doctors feel that they have to do it rather than it being a matter of clinical judgement, a choice?
This seminar aims to promote and facilitate informed debate and discussion via a combination of theoretical papers and case studies in order to explore these issues. Time will be given for facilitated, in-depth, discussion with the participation of a well-informed audience of legal academics, bioethicists, clinicians, regulators and policy-makers.