Skip to main content


Medical Ethics, Law and Communication at a Glance


Medical Ethics, Law and Communication at a Glance presents a succinct overview of these key areas of the medical curriculum.

This new title aims to provide a concise summary of the three core, interlinked topics essential to resolving ethical dilemmas in medicine and avoiding medico-legal action.

Divided into two sections; the first examines the ethical and legal principles underpinning each medical topic; while the second focuses on communication skills and the importance of good communication.

Medical Ethics, Law and Communication at a Glance offers an accessible introduction to the fundamentals of good medical practice, and will provide indispensable support for undergraduate medical students and nurses, as well as newly qualified healthcare professionals.

Editors vii

Contributors vii

Preface ix

Part I Medical ethics and law 1

1 What is medical ethics? 2

2 Ethical theories and principles 4

3 Ethical reasoning 7

4 What is medical law? 10

5 The English legal system 13

6 Relationship between ethics, law and professionalism 16

7 Ethical decisions in practice 18

8 Negligence 20

9 Battery and assault 24

10 Confidentiality 26

11 Consent 28

12 Reproduction 34

13 Termination of pregnancy 37

14 Organ donation and transplantation 40

15 Mental health 43

16 Safeguarding children and adults 46

17 Public health 48

18 Allocation of resources 50

19 Clinical genetics 53

20 Human research 56

21 Care of older adults 58

22 End of life care 61

23 Health management 65

24 Primary care 68

Part II Communication 71

25 The importance of good communication 72

26 The patient-centred consultation 74

27 Building the relationship 75

28 Listening and questioning 76

29 Explanations 78

30 Explaining procedures 80

31 The computer in the consultation 81

32 Shared decision making 82

33 Communication of risk 84

34 Talking about lifestyle changes 86

35 Breaking bad news 88

36 Bad news: patients’ reactions 90

37 Dealing with anger and aggression 92

38 Talking about sex 94

39 Communicating across cultures 96

40 Communicating with people with disabilities 98

41 Communicating with colleagues 100

42 Professionalism 102

43 Feedback 104

44 Looking after yourself 106

45 Kindness 108

Index 109

"Overall, this is a good overview. Although this book alone will not make the reader a complete doctor, it will be a good stepping stone toward that end. If readers are looking for an overview of communication skills in addition to medical ethics and law, this book is the only option because there are no books that cover all three topics." (Doody Enterprises 17/03/2017)

"Medical Ethics, Law and Communication follows along the same lines as Medical School At A Glance, with Davey and co-editors providing a no-nonsense overview of how to avoid potential minefields in the profession...Medical Ethics features a well-honed narrative – telling the reader what they need to know, opening doors into subjects that should naturally motivate further independent research. In sum, no prospective or practicing health care provider can afford to be without this resource." (The Electric Review, 23/03/2017)