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Medical Negligence

Designed in collaboration with the Australasian College of Legal Medicine (ACLM), this microcredential is for those who are impacted by the law and wish to understand the law as it applies to their practices for the benefit of their patients. You will examine the law of negligence, focussing on its relevance to the practice of medicine and the provision of healthcare generally and will investigate the fundamentals of negligence law – harm, duty of care, breach, and causation - contextualised against the broader social and economic policy goals of Australia’s universal healthcare system. 

In addition to the idiosyncrasies of the doctor’s duty of care to patients, the professional standard of care in relation to providing treatment and care and obtaining consent, and the challenges of establishing medical causation, you will be guided to consider the role of medical indemnity insurance in driving the Civil Liability reforms of the early 2000s, and the role of class actions related to pharmaceutical and medical device failure. 

You will also compare approaches to medical negligence, including no-fault schemes in some jurisdictions and attempts to criminalise gross medical negligence in others. 

The course is delivered over 8 weeks via a series of self-paced online modules and a two-day, online workshop. The modules provide the theoretical and doctrinal foundations for the course, while the workshop focuses on practical application and discussion. 

Upon successfully completing the course and the assessments, you will receive an official academic transcript and 10 Bond credit points, which are claimable towards a relevant Bond postgraduate degree. 

“It is a pleasure to write a testimonial to endorse the Medical Negligence Microcredential course. The course is offered on the modern and easy to use iLearn online platform. The content follows seamlessly and is supported by videos and other support and referencing material. The content is divided into 6 modules and follows the required elements of negligence: Harm, Duty of Care, Breach of Duty, Causation, Defences and Damages. The last module is dedicated to indemnity, insurance and approaches to malpractice. The course is complemented by an online weekend workshop that reviews the entire course material and addresses the students’ questions.

I found the course lecturer, Wendy Bonython, extremely knowledgeable, an excellent teacher and very approachable. I highly recommend this course to all members of the ACLM and other medical practitioners with an interest in the law and medicine.”

Prof. Kurosh Parsi | Dermatologist, Phlebologist and Vascular Anomalies Specialist

“The content of the course focuses on the liability issues surrounding primarily medical negligence, but also captures some case law pertinent to other areas of personal injury including worker’s compensation, public liability and motor vehicle accidents. The course was a succinct summary of how liability is determined. A range of case law and high court decisions formed part of the course that demonstrated that some complex cases are disputed in the high court, with the over-turning of decisions. 

The course was extremely informative, insightful, full of learning and upskilling, with an opportunity to liaise with other health practitioners participating in the course. These course benefits were endorsed through the knowledge-based support and enlightening discussions with Ms Bonython both before, during and following the course. Ms Bonython’s support was endless, and her ability to facilitate and meander the discussions, accordingly, resulted in the course dynamic being creative, friendly and inspiring.”

Susan Dinley | Occupational Therapist
  • The course is delivered over 8 weeks, commencing on Monday, 10 June 2024. You will work through six online modules at your own pace and attend a two-day, online workshop on Saturday, 20 July and Sunday, 21 July 2024. Attendance at the workshops is mandatory to pass the course.

    Workshop:

    The two-day workshop will run for six hours each day and will cover the following topics:

    1. If medical negligence is the answer, what is the problem? Medical negligence in context 
    2. The patient/client/litigant therapeutic relationship
    3. Identifying legal issues (but NOT becoming your own lawyer!) 
    4. Complexities in causation - long-tail exposure claims (asbestos, tobacco, silicon), and scientific uncertainty 
    5. The challenges of scale: class actions and defective medical devices and pharmaceuticals
    6. Apologies, regrets, institutional reforms? 
    7. Dr Bawa-Garba – a case study 
    8. Reflections, next steps and closing

    Online modules:

    Module 1: What do we mean by ‘harm’? The wrongs we compensate, and the ones we don’t – We begin our examination of negligence by considering the social and economic conditions that drove its evolution, and exploring why we compensate some forms of harm, but not others. We consider the complexities around ‘pure’ psychological or mental harms, and loss of chance of a better medical outcome, as well as wrongful life and wrongful conception claims. 

    Module 2: A duty of care within an ethic of care – Negligence law is predicated on the idea that the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. Medical ethics and professional standards require a focus on the well-being of the patient and the practitioner within their broader social context. What is a duty of care? What activities does it apply to? And is it consistent with the broader ethic of care approach demanded by the profession and society? 

     Module 3: Breach of the doctor’s duty of care – When the ‘how’ is more important than the ‘what’. Breach is the ‘fault’ element of negligence law, when the conduct of a defendant is benchmarked against the hypothesised conduct of a reasonable person in identical circumstances - in the case of medical negligence, a hypothetical peer professional. 

     Module 4: Causation and defences – What does it mean to legally ‘cause’ a harm? Is it different to scientific or philosophical causation? How do we show that an individual’s harm was caused by a particular act or omission, against a complex backdrop of epidemiological data? What is the science simply isn’t advanced enough to know? Causation in medical negligence raises many conceptual challenges rarely found in other areas of law- how does the legal system account for this complexity?

     Module 5: Damages, indemnity, and insurance – We are all required to hold professional indemnity insurance (or our employers are) as a condition of practice – but why? In this module we will look at the components of a damages claim and consider the role of insurance – including professional indemnity insurance – in offsetting risk liability for practitioners. 

     Module 6: The view from across the seas – other approaches to medical negligence. Our focus to date has been on the common law anglo-centric model of medical negligence law, but there are other models. In some countries, iatrogenic harms (including negligence) are covered by statutory no-fault schemes. Elsewhere there are calls to criminalise medical negligence under legislation. We consider these developments through the lens of the purpose and objectives of negligence law and reflect on why they may or may not offer useful insights into the Australian medical negligence law context.

    Assessments:

    TypeTask%Timing
    Computer-aided Test (Open)Completion of online exercises (6 x 5%)30%Ongoing
    AssignmentLegal problem-solving assignment50%In Consultation
    Student EngagementWorkshop participation20%20-21 July
  • This course has been designed in collaboration with the Australasian College of Legal Medicine (ACLM) for those who are impacted by the law and wish to understand the law as it applies to their practices for the benefit of their patients.

    The course is available to legal, medical, dental and allied health professionals who are members of the ACLM, as well as any person holding a Bachelor degree or higher, whose qualification requires registration with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (or equivalent if overseas) and/or as a legal practitioner. 

  • Upon completion of the course, you will be able to:

    • Deconstruct an emerging negligence dispute, and apply abstract legal principles to predict its resolution
    • Critically evaluate the law of negligence in the context of a systems-based model of healthcare delivery, and its broader social, ethical and economic context
    • Devise innovative suggestions for reform of, and education about, medical negligence law.

    Credit and recognition

    At Bond, this microcredential equates to 10 credit points (equivalent to one postgraduate subject). After completion of the course, you will receive an official academic transcript.

  • Application deadline: 6 May, 2024

    Course dates: 10 June – 4 August, 2024

    Workshop dates: Saturday, 20 July and Sunday, 21 July
     

The course is delivered over 8 weeks, commencing on Monday, 10 June 2024. You will work through six online modules at your own pace and attend a two-day, online workshop on Saturday, 20 July and Sunday, 21 July 2024. Attendance at the workshops is mandatory to pass the course.

Workshop:

The two-day workshop will run for six hours each day and will cover the following topics:

  1. If medical negligence is the answer, what is the problem? Medical negligence in context 
  2. The patient/client/litigant therapeutic relationship
  3. Identifying legal issues (but NOT becoming your own lawyer!) 
  4. Complexities in causation - long-tail exposure claims (asbestos, tobacco, silicon), and scientific uncertainty 
  5. The challenges of scale: class actions and defective medical devices and pharmaceuticals
  6. Apologies, regrets, institutional reforms? 
  7. Dr Bawa-Garba – a case study 
  8. Reflections, next steps and closing

Online modules:

Module 1: What do we mean by ‘harm’? The wrongs we compensate, and the ones we don’t – We begin our examination of negligence by considering the social and economic conditions that drove its evolution, and exploring why we compensate some forms of harm, but not others. We consider the complexities around ‘pure’ psychological or mental harms, and loss of chance of a better medical outcome, as well as wrongful life and wrongful conception claims. 

Module 2: A duty of care within an ethic of care – Negligence law is predicated on the idea that the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. Medical ethics and professional standards require a focus on the well-being of the patient and the practitioner within their broader social context. What is a duty of care? What activities does it apply to? And is it consistent with the broader ethic of care approach demanded by the profession and society? 

 Module 3: Breach of the doctor’s duty of care – When the ‘how’ is more important than the ‘what’. Breach is the ‘fault’ element of negligence law, when the conduct of a defendant is benchmarked against the hypothesised conduct of a reasonable person in identical circumstances - in the case of medical negligence, a hypothetical peer professional. 

 Module 4: Causation and defences – What does it mean to legally ‘cause’ a harm? Is it different to scientific or philosophical causation? How do we show that an individual’s harm was caused by a particular act or omission, against a complex backdrop of epidemiological data? What is the science simply isn’t advanced enough to know? Causation in medical negligence raises many conceptual challenges rarely found in other areas of law- how does the legal system account for this complexity?

 Module 5: Damages, indemnity, and insurance – We are all required to hold professional indemnity insurance (or our employers are) as a condition of practice – but why? In this module we will look at the components of a damages claim and consider the role of insurance – including professional indemnity insurance – in offsetting risk liability for practitioners. 

 Module 6: The view from across the seas – other approaches to medical negligence. Our focus to date has been on the common law anglo-centric model of medical negligence law, but there are other models. In some countries, iatrogenic harms (including negligence) are covered by statutory no-fault schemes. Elsewhere there are calls to criminalise medical negligence under legislation. We consider these developments through the lens of the purpose and objectives of negligence law and reflect on why they may or may not offer useful insights into the Australian medical negligence law context.

Assessments:

TypeTask%Timing
Computer-aided Test (Open)Completion of online exercises (6 x 5%)30%Ongoing
AssignmentLegal problem-solving assignment50%In Consultation
Student EngagementWorkshop participation20%20-21 July

Meet your course instructor

Dr Wendy Bonython

Dr Wendy Bonython is an Associate Professor of Law at Bond University. Her research interests include torts, health law, and regulation and ethics of technology. She has published widely on issues including research ethics and regulation; legal capacity and culpability; genetic privacy; property in body parts and derivative data; regulation of medical devices and pharmaceuticals; and medical negligence. Her teaching interests include developing student and professional well-being and resilience skills; understanding interdisciplinarity; and developing student communication skills, including through the use of existing and emerging technologies.

Hear from Wendy to learn more about the course

How to apply

Applications are open!

Applying is free and easy. You will need to provide a copy of your CV and/or link to your LinkedIn profile to demonstrate your relevant background and experience to meet the eligibility requirements of the course. 

If you have any questions in regard to your application, please contact [email protected].

Apply now

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