Legal Issues in Medicine

Academic Year

This course is an interdisciplinary practice seminar co-taught by law and medical faculty designed to promote understanding and communication between the professions. Albany Law School students and Albany Medical Center resident physicians in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology work together during the semester to prepare an in-class presentation pertaining to a case of an ob/gyn patient in which there are a variety of medical, legal and/or ethical issues. The course offers a unique opportunity for law students to closely interact with another profession as they may be expected to do in practice. The first half of the semester is devoted to overview, discussion, and demonstration of selected areas where law and medicine intersect: theories of medical negligence, perspectives on medical malpractice litigation, finding and working with experts, ethical and bioethical issues in medical/legal practice, professional medical conduct, and hospital risk management. Students hear from course faculty as well as from guest experts in both law and medicine. For example, law students tour the neonatal intensive care unit at Albany Medical Center Hospital and discuss with the medical director the ethical challenges associated with caring for the region's most vulnerable infants and their families. The last several weeks of the semester are devoted to case presentations. Law students and medical residents work in teams to prepare a case using actual medical records (redacted) of an ob/gyn patient in which there possible medical/legal issues. The teams review the records to identify the medical issues involved and possible legal theories and defenses in the case. The teams then prepare presentations of the case for the class using the residents as medical experts. Presentations typically take the form of portions of medical malpractice trials. Law students also spend a half-day "on call" in labor and delivery at Albany Medical Center Hospital. Students shadow physicians and nurses and, with patient consent, may observe labor and delivery. Students then prepare a paper on the experience. Evaluation: Law students are evaluated on their team presentations (including preparation/ collaboration, performance, and self-reflection) and on "on-call" papers. Students are provided with rubrics for assessment of these activities.