Skip to Content

Introduction to Health Law and Ethics

Course Number: MP 140
Transcript Title: Intro to Health Law and Ethics
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: July 10, 2015
Total Credits: 3
Lecture Hours: 30
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: No
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


WR115, RD115, and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Introduces the legal aspects, code of ethics and policy issues relevant to health care. Emphasizes confidential communications, advanced directives, consents, professional liability, medical malpractice, release of information, case studies and the professional code of ethics for medical assistants.  Includes concepts of professional credentialing and responsibility, liability and working within legal/ethical boundaries. Prerequisites: WR115, RD115, and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Apply applicable federal, state and local laws and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid regulations to the health care environment
  2. Apply laws of HIPAA and informed consent when working with medical records.
  3. Apply legal requirements of acceptable methods for complete and timely documentation and authentication of entries to the medical record.
  4. Maintain ethical tenets of a healthcare professional and act in an ethical manner.
  5. Understand the nuances of professional liability and medical malpractice.
  6. Have an awareness of health care policy with regard to death & dying, genetics, and health care trends.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Fulfillment of these outcomes will be assessed by:

  1. Answer theoretical and applications questions on the information covered in lecture, graded assignments and reading assignments.
  2. Analyze and report on case studies appropriate to chapter focus.
  3. Locate and report on current legal issues in the delivery of health care.

Course Activities and Design

The following list outlines the concepts, themes and issues the student will need to understand be able to use appropriately.  The student will have the opportunity to demonstrate understanding in written and oral form, individually and in groups.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Why Study Law and Ethics
    • Explain why knowledge of law and ethics is important.
    • Distinguish among law, ethics, bioethics, etiquette, and protocol.
    • Define moral values and explain how they relate to law, ethics, and etiquette.
    • Discuss the characteristics and skills most likely to lead to a successful career in health care.
  2. Making Ethical Decisions
    • Describe and compare need and value development theories.
    • Identify the major principles of contemporary consequences-oriented, duty-oriented, and virtue ethics reasoning.
    • Define the basic principles of health care ethics.
  3. Working in Health Care
    • Define licensure, certification, registration, and accreditation.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of how physicians are licensed, how physicians are regulated, and the purpose of a medical board.
    • Define four types of medical practice management systems.
    • Discuss two federal acts that prohibit fraud and abuse in health care billing.
    • Define three types of managed care plans.
    • Define telemedicine, cyber medicine, and e-health and discuss their roles in today’s health care environment. 
  4. Law, The Courts and Contracts
    • Discuss the basis of and primary sources of law.
    • Discuss the classifications of law.
    • Define the concepts of torts and discuss how the tort of negligence affects health care.
    • List and discuss the four elements of a contract.
    • Differentiate between expressed and implied contracts.
    • Discuss the contractual rights and responsibilities of both physicians and patients.
    • Relate how the law of agency and the doctrine of respondeat superior apply to health care.
  5. Professional Liability and Medical Malpractice
    • Identify three areas of general liability for which a physician/employer is responsible.
    • Describe reasonable person standard, standard of care, and duty of care.
    • Briefly outline the responsibilities of health care practitioners concerning privacy, confidentiality, and privileged communication.
    • Explain the four elements necessary to prove negligence (the four D’s).
    • Outline the phases of a lawsuit.
    • Name two advantages to alternative dispute resolution.
  6. Defenses to Liability Suits
    • List and define the 4 C’s of medical malpractice prevention.
    • Define the various defenses to professional liability suits.
    • Explain the purpose of quality improvement and risk management within a health care facility.
    • Discuss five different types of medical liability insurance.
  7. Medical Records and Informed Consent
    • Explain the purpose of medical records and the importance of proper documentation.
    • Demonstrate the procedure for making a correction in a medical record.
    • Identify ownership of medical records and determine how long a medical record must be kept by the owners.
    • Describe the purpose of obtaining a patient’s consent for release of medical information.
    • Explain the doctrine of informed consent.
    • Describe the necessity for EMR and the efforts being made to record all medical records electronically.
  8. Privacy Law and HIPAA
    • Discuss U.S. constitutional amendments and privacy laws that pertain to health care.
    • Explain how the language provision and standards of HIPAA mandates apply to your profession.
    • Discuss the special requirements for disclosing PHI
    • Discuss the patient rights defined by HIPAA.
    • Recognize and dispel some of the more prevalent myths concerning HIPAA.
  9. Physicians’ Public Duties and Responsibilities
    • List at least four vital events for which statistics are collected by the government.
    • Discuss the procedures for filing birth and death certificates.
    • Explain the purpose of public health statutes.
    • Cite examples of reportable diseases and injuries, and explain how they are reported.
    • Discuss federal drug regulations, including the Controlled Substance Act.
  10. Workplace Legalities
    • Identify how the workplace is affected by federal laws regarding hiring and firing, discrimination, and other workplace regulations.
    • Identify four areas for which standards are mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for work done in a clinical setting.
    • Discuss the role of health care practitioners in following OSHA standards for infection control in the medical office.
    • Define the role of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988 (CLIA) in quality laboratory settings.
  11. The Beginning of Life and Childhood
    • Define genetics and heredity.
    • List several situations in which genetic testing might be appropriate and explain how it might lead to genetic discrimination.
    • Define genetic engineering, and explain why cloning and stem cell research are controversial issues.
    • Discuss three possible remedies for couples experiencing infertility problems.
    • List and discuss those laws affecting health care that pertain especially to children’s rights.
  12. Death and Dying
    • Discuss how attitudes toward death have changed over time.
    • Discuss accepted criteria for determining death.
    • Determine the health care professional’s role in caring for the dying.
    • Discuss benefits to end-of-life health care derived from the right to die movement.
    • Identify the major features of organ donation in the United States. 
    • Discuss the various stages of grief.
  13. Health Care Trends and Forecasts
    • Identify the major stakeholders in the United States health care system.
    • Describe the major areas of concern to those stakeholders.
    • Describe the major new trends that will affect health care in the U.S. in the next twenty years.
    • Discuss former and ongoing attempts to reform the US health care system