Health: The Health Care System, Therapeutic Relationships, and Public Health

Lawrence O. Gostin, Phil Fennell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Health law can be viewed as comprising several distinct, but overlapping, areas of interest: the health care system, the therapeutic relationship, and the public health system. These three spheres do not represent the entire range of issues dealt with by health law scholars, but they are among the most prominent. This article analyzes the major tensions and trade-offs that occur, explicitly or implicitly, in each of these three areas. The theory is that individual liberty interests often clash with collective interests in health and security. The law mediates between these two sets of interests. The article first examines the health care system - that is, the organization, financing, and delivery of personal medical services. Next it considers the therapeutic relationship - that is, the complex ways in which patients and health care professionals (principally doctors) interact. Finally, it discusses public health law, which principally involves government duties and powers to assure the conditions in which populations can be healthy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Legal Studies
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780191743832, 9780199248179
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Health care system
  • Health law
  • Public health lawf
  • Public health system
  • Therapeutic relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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