Healthcare Law and Ethics: Principles & Practices

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With the increasing number of complaints and court cases relating to healthcare disputes, healthcare practitioners (HCPs) are now facing more challenges and dilemmas in their daily practices. This book is unique in that most chapters are written jointly by two authors: one with legal training and one with a healthcare background. The balanced view offered thus allows readers to gain a thorough understanding of the concepts presented. Although most of the examples and scenarios are specific to medical doctors, the basic principles and ethical considerations as well as the enforcement of laws and regulations are, with some modifications, equally applicable to other HCPs, such as dentists, nurses, midwives, etc. Readers interested in healthcare law and ethics from numerous fields and stages of training, including legal and healthcare practitioners, trainees, postgraduate researchers and undergraduate students, will find this book both informative and practical as an aid to their work and studies.
Pub. Date
Feb 6, 2023
576 pages
160 x 235 mm


The year 2016 was an eventful year for the healthcare profession in Hong Kong. The hot topics in the medical circle were the debate on the amendments of the Medical Registration Ordinance (MRO) in the Legislative Council and the reform of the Medical Council of Hong Kong (MCHK). Also in that year, the Code of Professional Conduct was revised by the MCHK in January. In the middle of the year, the obstetricians welcomed the launch of a new insurance indemnity product after they had been hard hit by a sudden unilateral change of policy of the previous provider two years prior. The profession was also concerned about the effects in Hong Kong of the judgment of Montgomery, a landmark case on informed consent decided in the UK Supreme Court in the previous year. Other happenings in 2016 were the publication of a Report and the Second Round Consultation, as well as the Final Report and Recommendations, on the enactment of Apology Legislation. These were important steps in the development of the Hong Kong Apology Ordinance which commenced in the following year.

It was then the three of us gathered together to plan writing a book on healthcare law and ethics which would be the only one of its kind on the subject. It would serve as an authoritative as well as a practical textbook for use by members of both healthcare and legal professions. To achieve this goal, we decided to invite healthcare experts and top lawyers to share their valuable experience. After two years of preparation and research, we started to invite authors to collaborate with us. We were very fortunate that we had successfully invited three renowned King’s Counsels from the UK and nine experts in their respective fields from Hong Kong to be the lead authors in different chapters of this book. All the authors spent more than two years of intensive research, drafting, revising and updating their manuscripts before the final drafts were sent to the publisher.

We have designed a unique arrangement of pairing an author with legal background and one with healthcare background in each chapter. We look at the statutes and cases in Hong Kong and also draw comparisons from other common law jurisdictions, especially those cases in the UK. In this way, every chapter is dissected and looked at from more than one angle. The co-authors have crystallised the different perspectives, analysed various statutes, case laws and references from local and abroad, and presented a balanced view in each chapter catered for the need of our readers from both the healthcare and legal professions who are interested in healthcare law and ethics. Although a large part of this book is about laws, we have taken steps to ensure that even those without much legal background will find the text easy to understand. In some chapters, we have added case scenarios to stimulate more in-depth discussions in classes and other platforms of the readers, be they students or practitioners.

While all the chapters contain a wealth of information and can be read on their own, extensive cross references are made between separate chapters to help the readers to study the topics from different perspectives and have a better understanding of the subject matter. Although most of the examples and scenarios are related to medical doctors, the basic principles and concepts of ethics and the enforcement of laws and regulations are, with some modifications, equally applicable to dentists, nurses, midwives and other healthcare practitioners. We hope that healthcare and legal practitioners, trainees, postgraduate and undergraduate students who are interested in healthcare laws and ethics will find this book both informative and practical as a tool in their work and studies. It is unfortunate that the publication of this book has been delayed until now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

James Chiu
Albert Lee
Kar-wai Tong

Section One

Principles and Concepts of Healthcare Law and Ethics

  1. Introduction
  2. Introduction of Basic Legal Concepts Relating to Healthcare
  3. Medico-Legal Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas in Day-to-Day Practices
  4. Disclosure of Information and Informed Consent
  5. What Constitutes Negligence and Gross Negligence Manslaughter?

Section Two

Complaints, Disciplinary Proceedings and Indemnity Insurance

  1. Complaints and Disciplinary Proceedings before the Medical Council of Hong Kong
  2. Beyond the Discipline of Doctors: Other Aspects of the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals in Hong Kong
  3. Professional Indemnity Insurance: Occurrence-Based or Claims-Made? What Are the Protections?

Section Three

Confidentiality, Disclosure and Apologies

  1. Confidentiality, Privacy and Personal Data
  2. Open Disclosure in Healthcare
  3. ‘Sorry’ is No Longer the Hardest Word: The Apology Ordinance of Hong Kong

Section Four

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Relationship with Colleagues

  1. Alternative Dispute Resolution in Healthcare Disputes: An Evolving Culture
  2. Relationship with Colleagues

Section Five

Liabilities beyond Healthcare Practices

  1. Occupier’s Liability: Some Legal Lessons for Healthcare Institutes
  2. Concluding Remarks



About the Editors:


James Shing Ping CHIU

Dr James Shing Ping CHIU is an Honorary Assistant Professor of the Medical Faculty at the University of Hong Kong. He was appointed as an Adjunct Assistant Professor to help launch the first mediation course at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2010. He is also a professional mediator. He co-chairs the Professionalism and Ethics Committee at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. He is a medical assessor in Inquiry Panels and a member of the Preliminary Investigation Committee (1) of the Medical Council of Hong Kong.


Albert LEE

Professor Albert LEE is Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Honorary Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is an International Member of the National Academy of Medicine, United States, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom. He is an enrolled Barrister and Solicitor (New Zealand) and Legal Practitioner (NSW, Australia).


Kar-wai TONG

Dr Kar-wai TONG has had multi-disciplinary exposure to healthcare, social care, law and education. He holds a doctoral degree in Juridical Science (Hong Kong) and was called to the Bar (England and Wales). He is an enrolled Barrister and Solicitor (New Zealand) (non-practicing), a Legal Practitioner (NSW, Australia) (non-practicing), a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom), and an Accredited General Mediator (Hong Kong).