Medical law is a type of philosophy that is often misunderstood. Is a medical lawyer a doctor or a lawyer? What is it exactly that they do? Hopefully, this article will make the mystery of medical lawyers be finally clear, and it would make those who want to pursue a career in medical lawyer be more enlightened in how to prepare for this profession.
What is Medical Law?
Medical law is a branch of law that focuses on health care. This type of law encompasses the rights and responsibilities of both health care workers as well as the patients. Just like a lawyer, medical lawyers handle cases but their clients are mainly involved in cases wherein health care is involved.
Just like other lawyers, medical lawyers will have to go through a significant amount of training and must be licensed in order to be able to practice. Medical lawyers typically handle cases that focus on tort law, as well as those that involve ethical, criminal, or regulatory issues within the industry.
Medical law is very important as this encompasses and requires a large scope of knowledge in the health care industry. Just like doctors have specializations, medical lawyers are those that are best equipped with the education and experience with regard to healthcare-related cases.
Salaries for medical lawyers vary depending on where they work as well as their level of experience. On average, though, they earn about 100,000 dollars a year.
How to Be a Medical Lawyer in Australia
It will take about seven years in order to become a full-fledged medical lawyer in Australia. Those who wish to become a medical lawyer must get a JD, or Doctor of Jurisprudence, or a Bachelor of Law, also known as an LLB. This will take anywhere from three to four years, although it may take longer to complete.
After getting your degree, you will have to undergo an apprenticeship with a lawyer that has been working for at least three years. In some cases, those who have graduated law in other countries can also be accepted for this step. Take note, though, that different states may have different rules about this.
After this step, you must apply for Admission to Legal Practice and undergo practice with a mentor. This can be anywhere from 18 to 24 months. Once the training period has ended and you have applied for a Practicing Certificate, then you are now a certified medical lawyer that can take clients on your own.
However, take note that you will only be a solicitor. In order to become a barrister so that you can represent clients in court, you will still need to undergo further training and then pass the bar exam. In order to practice as a barrister.
Common Responsibilities of Medical Lawyers
Medical law is not just about going to court and suing or defending a client. There are also other duties that medical lawyers perform, and some of them are in a more corporate setting. As such, some medical lawyers do not even have to step in court and still handle many clients.
Here are some of the common responsibilities that medical lawyers are expected to do.
Handle Court Cases
Court cases that require a medical lawyer include medical malpractice suits, which is the most common type of lawsuit that medical lawyers are involved in. Other cases include those involving confidentiality laws, or those that have ethical implications such as euthanasia getting involved romantically or sexually with a patient.
Medical lawyers, like other lawyers, can be part of a firm or can practice privately. Both have their pros and cons,
Consulting for Private Companies
Hospitals and even corporations such as those that manufacture drugs may hire a team of medical lawyers. Their purpose is to ensure that these companies follow government and state laws regarding health care policies.
Companies such as those that manufacture medicine, food and beverages, or those that work in real estate often have a medical lawyer on board to ensure that they are following the law. In some cases, reviewing patents and litigating against those that steal intellectual property in these industries are also performed.
Handle Insurance Claims
Some insurance companies have medical lawyers on board to review claims. They are present to review claims and to ensure that approvals or rejections comply with company policies. They are the ones who may also represent their clients when there are lawsuits about claims not being covered.
Work in Hospitals
Medical lawyers, while not doctors, can be found in the hospital as well. In fact, this is the best place to be as they can soak in a lot of experience in the field. Medical lawyers represent doctors and hospitals, especially when it comes to medical malpractice suits.
However, medical lawyers also help in reviewing credential hires. They are also present to orient doctors and staff on health regulations, as well as privacy laws. In effect, medical lawyers are there to ensure that hospitals, doctors, and all staff perform at code so as to avoid any penalties, violations, or lawsuits.
Work in the Government
Many government committees, especially departments and initiatives that focus on urbanization, health care, sanitation, and other similar purposes, have medical lawyers within the team. Their main purpose is to create and review policies, as well as address potential legal issues with relation to health.
Medical lawyers can act as consultants in the creation of new laws, and they can help legislators make more informed decisions when creating or passing new policies and regulations.
Becoming a medical lawyer can be a difficult process, but it can be very rewarding as well. Medical lawyers work closely with different types of people, not just doctors and patients, and they will be involved in numerous types of cases during the course of their career.
If you are interested in becoming a medical lawyer, Australia has numerous schools that can provide you with the education and training that you need. Working in medical law can be a very rewarding career, and it can help make lives better as well.