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MD Program

Scholarly Concentrations Program (SCP)

Scholarly Concentrations Program (SCP)

Law & Medicine (lmSC)

Law & Medicine

This concentration seeks to have the student appreciate the legal aspects of medicine. Students will learn what regulations govern them, how those regulations come to be, and how they are enforced. Students will gain the knowledge and tools to understand where their practice of medicine fits in the regulatory state vis-à-vis individual practices and healthcare policy. It is hoped that this concentration will improve healthcare delivery and practice by producing physicians well-versed in the legal aspects of medicine.


Students attend monthly meetings consisting of faculty leaders and guest lecturers’ presentations and group discussions. Topics include but are not limited to: physician malpractice, healthcare compliance, patient privacy law, and medical ethics law.  Students are encouraged to participate in Black Robe Day, a one day interprofessional learning activity for students and faculty from USF.  Participants experience a brief introduction to the judicial system.  Students break into small groups to accompany judges into their courtrooms to experience firsthand trials, hearings, and the judicial process.  Both faculty and students can better understand how the law relates to health decisions, clinical services, professional decisions, and their lives.  

This concentration requires a Capstone Project on Law and Medicine. It may be original research, a service project, a clinical experience, or a case study of a health policy issue in action. Students are encouraged to publish their Capstone Projects and present at national and local meetings. Example Capstone Project topics include:

Reducing Overuse of Cardiac Radionuclide Imaging

This paper examined whether physician practice aligned with clinical care standards set forth by the American College of Cardiology.  It described the influence of defensive medicine, physician fear of liability on ordering practices, and overutilization in cardiology.

Adolescent Health Laws in Florida: What Clinicians Should Know

  This project involved developing a Continuing Education presentation and summary handouts to clinicians on the medical ethics committee at Advent Health Tampa on adolescent healthcare such as contraception, abortion, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.  The presentation provided key takeaways, such as what services clinicians can provide without parental consent, the basis for parental consent, and how confidentiality applies.

Kratom in America: Legal Differences across Federal, State, and Local Jurisdictions   

This paper examined the legal status of kratom, a stimulant drug with opioid-like properties.  It provided an overview of federal law, including the position of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.  It also provided an overview of state laws permitting or restricting consumer access.


●        Participation in Black Robe Day; a one-day event in which students learn about Law and Medicine first-hand in a courtroom

●        Gain an understanding of how much the law impacts practice, how it defines the standard of care, and how it affects physicians in Florida

●        Be involved in small-group discussions covering topics in current events and hot topic news (examples have included healthcare privacy breaches and Big Data, telehealth, medical marijuana laws)

Examples of Student Scholarly Work 

“She Has Dementia”: How Clinicians Can Respond When Family Members Assert a Healthcare Proxy Lacks Decision-making Capacity

This paper was a commentary on a case that occurred during a clinical ethics consultation at Advent Health- Tampa.  Clinicians brought a case to the ethics committee of how to respond in a case where a wife was acting as the proxy decision-maker for the patient, her husband.  In this case, both the patient and decision-maker were older adults, and other family members claimed that the wife had dementia and should not be the decision-maker.  This paper provided an outline of legal and ethical points to consider for assessing the decision-making capacity of in cases involving surrogate and proxy medical decision-maker and guidance for future cases.  

Physician Supervision and the Problem of Liability for Mid-Level Practitioners

This paper examined the trend of several states expanding scope of practice laws to permit midlevel practitioners such as Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners increased discretion in clinical practice.  Normally, physicians are liable in cases of medical malpractice and the law presumes physicians oversee and supervise midlevel practitioners.  However, some states permit midlevel practitioners broad discretion to see patients, diagnose, and prescribe medication without direct physician oversight.  It described benefits to patients (such as increased access to healthcare services), and costs (such as less experienced providers), and the problem of uncertain liability for errors, patient safety, and harm.


Faculty Leadership

Jay Wolfson, JD, Dr.PH
Katherine Drabiak, JD