Patients' Rights and Public Protection

Subject LAWS70348 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

This subject will examine patients’ expectations and legal rights when receiving health care; their avenues for complaint and compensation; and accountability mechanisms (including professional discipline) for protecting the public in the event of health, performance or conduct problems involving a health practitioner. The focus will be on patients and health practitioners in Australia and New Zealand.

Principal topics will include:

  • Patient safety
  • Patients’ needs and rights following an adverse event
  • Open disclosure
  • Defensive medicine
  • Health practitioner regulation (including the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Scheme)
  • Health complaint systems in Australia and New Zealand.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand the significance of patient safety as a health policy issue
  • Be aware of the needs of patients following an adverse event
  • Know what 'open disclosure' means and why it matters
  • Have analysed barriers to patient safety, including medical litigation
  • Understand the legal responsibilities of clinicians, managers and boards
  • Appreciate regulatory levers to improve patient safety
  • Have examined the regulation of health professionals in Australia and New Zealand
  • Be familiar with health complaint systems in Australia and New Zealand.

10,000 word research paper (100%) (13 November) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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