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Law and Medical Technology

Legal Technology

Legal technology traditionally referred to the application of technology and software to help individual lawyers, law firms, and medium and large scale businesses with practice management, document storage, billing, accounting and electronic discovery. Since 2011, Legal Tech has evolved to be associated more with technology start-ups disrupting the practice of law by giving people access to online software that reduces or in some cases eliminates the need to consult a lawyer, or by connecting people with lawyers more efficiently through online marketplaces and lawyer-matching websites.

Medical Technology

Medical technology has a major strategic factor in positioning the hospital and its perception in the competitive environment of health care providers. Numerous dazzling new biomedical devices and systems are continuously being introduced. They are being introduced at a time when the pressure on hospitals to contain expenditures is mounting. Therefore, forecasting the deployment of medical technology and the capacity to continuously evaluate its impact on the hospital require that the hospital be willing to make the commitment and to provide the support such a program. An in-house “champion” is needed in order to provide the leadership that continuously and objectively plans. This figure might use additional in-house or independent expertise as needed. To focus the function of this program in large, academically affiliated, and government hospitals, the position of a chief technology officer (CTO) is becoming justifiable. While executives have traditionally relied on members of their staffs to produce objective analyses of the hospital’s technological needs, they nevertheless are too often subjected to the biases of various interest groups, including marketing and vendor appeals.

More than one executive has made a purchasing decision for biomedical technology only to discover later that some needed or expected features were not included with the installation or that those features were not yet approved for delivery. These features have come to be known as “future ware” or “vapourware”. Or, alternatively, it may be discovered that the installation has not been adequately planned, ending therefore as a disturbing, unscheduled, expensive and long undertaking.

Medicolegal is the term, which incorporates the basics of two sister professions i.e. Medicine and Law. Everybody talks about the law but few, aside from lawyers, judges and law teachers, have more than the vaguest notion of what constitutes law. The average layman often has about as much accurate information about the law as he has about medicine-or life on Venus. And, unfortunately, two professional groups suffer from more ignorance of law and medicine than is good for them:

Lawyers, at least those who do not constantly deal with medical issues in their legal practice, know very little about the medical profession and its problems; physicians frequently comprehend too little about the law and how it affects them in the practice of their profession. Medico legal experts can provide a link between these two professions for their smooth & effective functioning in a scientific manner. The physician meets the law at every turn. He confronts it when, as the treating doctor, he is subpoenaed as a witness in a personal injury lawsuit; he meets it when his aid is sought as an expert in connection with a claim that another member of his profession has been negligent and when he is faced in his office or clinic by a narcotic addict, a man with a gunshot wound, or a young couple seeking a blood test. He is face-to-face with the law when he is required to render an aggravating array of governmental reports or to preserve physical evidence for the benefit of a law enforcement agency. The physician, in fact, finds a great deal of the law intensely irritating, often because he is not absolutely clear as to its purpose.
The following subjects deal with all the above aspects of Law and medicine.

1. Forensic Medicine
2. Medical Jurisprudence
3. Toxicology

Medical jurisprudence is the application of medical science to legal problems. It is typically involved in cases concerning blood relationship, mental illness, injury, or death resulting from violence. Autopsy is often used to determine the cause of death, particularly in cases where foul play is suspected. Post-mortem examination can determine not only the immediate agent of death (e.g. gunshot wound, poison), but may also yield important contextual information, such as how long the person has been dead, which can help trace the killing. Forensic medicine has also become increasingly important in cases involving rape. Modern techniques use such specimens as semen, blood, and hair samples of the criminal found in the victim’s bodies, which can be compared to the defendant’s genetic makeup through a technique known as DNA fingerprinting; this technique may also be used to identify the body of a victim. The establishment of serious mental illness by a licensed psychologist can be used in demonstrating incompetence to stand trial, a technique which may be used in the insanity defence, albeit infrequently.

Autopsy

Autopsy is the systematic examination of a cadaver for study or for determining the cause of death. Autopsy means “see for yourself”. It is a special surgical operation, performed by specially trained physicians, on a dead body. Its purpose is to learn the truth about the person’s health during life, and how the person really died. Autopsies, also known as necropsies, post-mortems, or post-mortem examinations, use many methodical procedures to determine the etiology and pathogenesis of diseases, for epidemiologic purposes, for establishment of genetic causes, and for family counsel. There are many advantages to getting an autopsy. Even when the law does not require it, there is always something interesting for the family to know. Post-mortems may be performed at the request of the authorities in cases of unexplained and suspicious death or where a physician did not attend death. In other circumstances post-mortem examination may be performed only with the consent of the deceased’s family or with permission granted by the person himself before death. These examinations are more frequently being used for the acquiring of organs and tissues for transplantation. Valuable medical information can be learned from a post-mortem examination. Legionnaire’s disease, for example, was discovered as a result of autopsies, and improved safety standards have resulted from the examination of the bodies of crash victims.

The autopsy deals with the particular illness as evidenced in one individual and are more than simply a statistical average. Every autopsy is important to expose mistakes, to delimit new diseases and new patterns of disease, and to guide future studies. Morbidity and mortality statistics acquire accuracy and significance when based on careful autopsies. The autopsy procedure itself has changed very little during the 20th century. It is a detailed examination of a body and each of its part, not only superficially but also through various tests on tissue in labs. Its purpose is to learn the truth about the person’s health during life, and how the person really died. Apparently, autopsies are being performed with decreasing frequently. Where earlier in the century as many as half of all bodies had autopsies performed, now only 5-10 percent of corpses undergo the procedure. Generally, an autopsy is only done when there is some cause of doubt as to the cause of death, although the family of the deceased can always request an autopsy even if the hospital doesn’t think it necessary. The first step is a gross examination of the exterior for any abnormality or trauma and a careful description of the interior of the body and its organs. This is usually followed by further studies, including microscopic examination of cells and tissues. Then the pathologist proceeds to the dissection, which consists of removing and examining carefully all parts of the body.

DNA Fingerprinting

DNA fingerprinting or DNA profiling or any of the several similar techniques for analysing and comparing DNA from separate sources are used especially in law enforcement to identify suspects from hair, blood, semen, or other biological materials found at the scene of a violent crime. It depends on the fact that no two people, save identical twins, have exactly the same DNA sequence and that although only limited segments of a person’s DNA are scrutinized in the procedure, those segments will be statistically unique. The DNA samples of the culprit can be obtained from the scene of crime itself. For example blood samples from a scene of murder or samples of seminal fluids deposited on the clothes or furniture or in the body of the victim of rape can be used to acquire a sample of the culprits DNA. These samples can be compared with those taken from a possible suspect in the case.

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