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Law Notes Medical Law Notes

Public Health I Notes

Updated Public Health I Notes

Medical Law Notes

Medical Law

Approximately 1067 pages

Medical Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB medical law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These were the best Medical Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through forty-eight LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest ...

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Mapping Public Health and Public Health Concerns/Issues

Public Health

What is Public Health?

A. Society’s obligation to assure the conditions for people’s health; or

B. Public health is what we, as a society, do collectively to assure the conditions for people to be healthy (IOM definition).

Mission Promote physical and mental health; prevent disease, injury, and disability

A. Assessment - assemble and analyze community health needs

B. Policy Development - informed through scientific knowledge

C. Assurance - services necessary for community health


A. Narrow focus - proximal risk factors (e.g., infectious disease control)

B. Broad focus - distal social structures (e.g., discrimination, homelessness, socioeconomic status)

Expertise Epidemiology and biostatistics, education and communication, leadership and politics

a) The idea of ‘Public Health’

Historically traces back to John Snow and the cholera crisis in London, and has undergone significant change throughout the 20th century as a result of three main factors: (1) modern change in mortality causes and mortality rates; (2) longer life spans, resulting in greater emphasis on illness management as opposed to death prevention; and (3) shifting conceptions of health from being ‘disease-free’ to being ‘illness-free’. Taken together, this resulted in shifting conceptions of medical laws.

Most definitions of public health share the premise that the subject of public health is the health of populations—rather than the health of individuals—and that this goal is reached by a generally high level of health throughout society, rather than the best possible health for a few. Verweij and Dawson’s approach conceptualises public health as ‘collective interventions’ that aim to promote and protect the health of the public. Within their conceptualisation are the following aspects:

public health is focused on populations (not just individuals);

much public health work is preventive rather than curative; and

most public health improvements cannot be brought about by individuals on their own: the attainment of public health ends requires collective efforts.

Why is it then that ‘Public Health’ is under appreciated both publicly and politically? Gostin raises the following reasons: (1) the rescue imperative - we like to save lives with names, not statistical lives; (2) the technological imperative - public health solutions less appealing than genetic or high tech solutions; (3) the invisibility of public health - when it works, we don’t notice it; and (4) the culture of individualism - society values personal goods over public goods more these days.

b) The scope of ‘Public Health’

A. Epstein’s Approach

Scholars and practitioners are conflicted about the “reach,” or domain, of public health. Some, like Epstein, prefer a narrow focus on the proximal risk factors for injury and disease. This has been the traditional role of public health—exercising discrete powers such as surveillance (e.g., screening and reporting), injury prevention (e.g., safe consumer products), and infectious disease control (e.g., vaccination, partner notification, and quarantine). In favour of this approach, Epstein argues that:

There is no relevant market failure for public health to correct - the ‘old’ public health was aimed at solving issues which bargaining and the common law were not suited to solve e.g. disease control. Chronic diseases like obesity etc. should not be within the domain of public health because they do not generate the same kind of market failure that infectious diseases do. Accordingly, regulation of socio-economic aspects of society under the umbrella of ‘public health’ is not appropriate.

Counter: (1) If market failure is defined differently (i.e. a different comparator model is adopted), then the argument could be made for regulation of obesity etc.; and (2) even if Epstein’s model of market failure is adopted, there needs to be reason for why obesity is not considered a market failure (because from the looks of it, the market is not able to internalise the issue). Surely a deepened understanding of the causes of obesity show that some factors cannot be managed by individuals alone acting through private transactions; and (3) his argument based on market failure begins with a baseline model of a market which is supplanted by moral premises that are not justified e.g. Epstein takes aim at unprotected and risky sex, but not consumption of risky unhealthy foods, seeing the former as a kind of market failure, but not the latter.

The additional regulations result in decreased social welfare - the ‘new’ public health has a wider scope, which undermines the creation of opportunity and wealth by over-regulating areas which need not be so strictly regulated, creating moral hazards, and diverting resources from other areas. For example:

in the quarantine and AIDS context, regulations are borderline overkill at the moment, treating AIDS as a contagious disease, when it is not. Specific AIDS anti-discrimination norms, whilst capable of helping people while they are down, has the effect of cross-subsidising the cost of engaging in risky behaviour, and preventing people from avoiding AIDS carriers. The provision of antibiotics to AIDS sufferers results in there being a wider window of time during which the virus can spread and/or develop immunities.

in the vaccination context, the modern legal position re negligence and product liability has resulted in an increase in the price of vaccines, and a concomitant reduction in the availability of vaccines.

in the governmental regulation context, where an increased focus on illness management has resulted in the adoption of policies that private insurers would never even consider, and the provision of treatment which may be wasteful (e.g. end of life care).

Counter: (1) Does regulation necessarily mean a decrease in welfare? In making this claim, is Epstein...

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