Legal Liability for Bioethicists

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Legal Liability for Bioethicists

The field of bioethics is responsible for many of the legal protections extended to medical patients and research subjects. The Hippocratic Oath can be thought of as a precursor to the issues that bioethicists deal with every day, and modern medicine has introduced many new considerations that ancient physicians could never have dreamed of.

Some of the primary concepts that bioethicists weigh and advise upon include:

  • Informed consent
  • Patient autonomy
  • Risk and benefit assessment
  • Advance directives and end-of-life issues
  • Organ transplant allocation
  • Limits of doctor/patient confidentiality
  • Research ethics

Due to heavy concentration on the law in the course of their work, bioethicists—many of whom are attorneys—are likely more aware of their own legal liabilities and those of their employers than most people in the health care field. Even so, they may still be subject to being drawn into malpractice lawsuits.

Because bioethicists’ work touches on so many emotionally-charged aspects of health care, it’s not surprising that they are sometimes called to defend their positions in court. That’s one of the reasons that a personal Bioethicist Liability Insurance Policy can be useful to have, especially in addition to any coverage that might be provided by an employer.