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Contemporary examples where doctors are not immune from non-fatal offences against a person

By Kelley J. Burton


While it is uncontested that the medical profession makes a valuable contribution to society, doctors should not always be beyond the reach of the criminal law and they should not automatically be treated as God. Doctors should act reasonably and be conscious of their position of trust. In this sense, the notion of “doctors” is construed broadly to include a range of health care professionals such as podiatrists, radiographers, surgeons and general practitioners. This paper will explore contemporary Australian examples where doctors have acted inappropriately and been convicted of non-fatal offences against the person. The physical invasiveness involved in these scenarios varies significantly. In one example, a doctor penetrates a patient’s private body part with a probe for their own sexual gratification, and in another, a doctor covertly visually records a naked patient. The examples will be connected to the theories underpinning criminalisation, particularly social welfare and individual autonomy, with a view to framing guidelines on when doctors should not be immune from non-fatal offences against a person, and thus where the criminal law should respond

Topics: 180110 Criminal Law and Procedure, Criminal law, Non-fatal offences, Social welfare, Individual autonomy, Consent
Year: 2009
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