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Medics 'need better lessons in law'

Patient care is likely to improve if medical students gain a better understanding of legal matters, new research suggests.

A report, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says young doctors are more likely to challenge poor practice or show leadership in promoting better patient care if they have a better understanding of how law relates to good medical practice.

The report's authors called for more emphasis to be placed on legal matters during medical degrees in a bid to increase the confidence of students, many of whom told the researchers that they felt they lacked the skills to challenge poor clinical practice.

More than 1,100 first, second and final year students were questioned for the study which was carried out by staff from the University of Bedfordshire and Imperial College, London, who concluded that law teaching must improve.

Their research found that students' confidence was particularly low in terms of knowledge of the Coroners' Act and courts.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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