Concepts in Medical Law and Legal Medicine

  • Rafael Aguiar-Guevara
Reference work entry


When a reference to Medical Law is made, there is a tendency to believe that it is actually Legal Medicine. There has always been a confusion of terms between Legal Medicine and Medical Law.

Medicine and Law have been related from the earliest times. The Bible, as an historical reference book, presents Medicine and Law as having the same origin as per Genesis (Rísquez-Amengual G. Prologue to Derecho Médico in Venezuela by Aguiar-Guevara R. Caracas, Venezuela: Livrosca; 1996). This chapter demonstrates that Forensic Science is a broader term than is Forensic Medicine and that the latter is much more the same as when the reference is made to Legal Medicine. It is just a redundancy.

This is not the same as Medical Law. Diagnosis of a disease is purely clinical and is not Medical Law. Similarly, artificial insemination or telesurgery is purely clinical rather than Medical Law. However, to discuss the possible damage caused to a patient and the legal implication for performing a new diagnostic or therapeutic procedure, without informed consent, is to refer to Medical Law, while to apply medical methodology and techniques to help justice to clarify the legal responsibilities is a matter of Forensic (Legal) Medicine.

The objective of this chapter is to establish a framework of definitions, concepts, boundaries, relationships, and differences between Forensic (Legal) Medicine and Medical Law and how the evolution of these concepts should be approached, concerning the past, present, and future.


Medical Doctor Forensic Medicine Legal Norm Criminal Responsibility Scientific Methodology 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Association for Medical LawBarutaVenezuela

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