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Vesalius. 1996;2(1):3-9.

Medicine and law.


This paper covers the period where medicine and law have come into contact over the past two or three hundred years. From the time of the Scottish Enlightenment, doctors and lawyers met philosophers and scientists in a sharing of intellectual activity. A later example in the nineteenth century, did not reflect well on an anatomist Dr Knox, who appeared in the criminal trial of Burke and Hare. His misdemeanours resulted in a change of the law on dissection. The increasing use of medical evidence with the growth of medical science led to the development of forensic medicine. Differences between legal and medical thinking led to the need for definitions of mental illness in relation to criminal responsibility. The law has also needed to protect public interest in distinguishing between medical negligence and misadventure. The history of both professions helps an understanding of the problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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