Queen's University
BMED 373 Health Ethics, Law, and Policy

BMED 373, Health Ethics, Law, and Policy, is an introduction to ethical, legal and regulatory requirements for people working in the health professions. Many of the decisions healthcare workers make have an ethical or legal dimension.  In some of these situations, knowing or doing the right thing can be unclear or difficult. In this course, students will learn how to recognize aspects of health care that raise ethical and legal questions and will develop approaches to creatively and effectively answering these questions.  Over twelve weeks, we cover ethical and legal issues encountered in most types of health care organizations, including acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient facilities, dental clinics, nursing homes, home care organizations, and health care systems. The values, principles and laws we review are also applicable to diverse client and patient populations.

This course is designed to prepare students who are planning to apply to health professional programs and emphasizes learning-by-doing. In addition to introducing students to a wide range of ethical and legal issues in healthcare using a case-based approach, it also builds on the foundational skills in BMED 173.  Students will develop advanced abilities to charitably understand contentious issues from multiple angles, assemble evidence in order to develop a position, and to communicate complex ideas. Students will also become acquainted with some of the biases, mistakes and mental shortcuts people commonly take in their reasoning and how to avoid them.

(Minimum 3rd year (level 3) standing in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program and BMED 173/3.0) or (Minimum 3rd year (level 3) standing within the Life Science or Biochemistry program) or permission of the instructor.

  • No more than 3.0 units from BMED 373/3.0 and PHIL 301/3.0.
  • No more than 3.0 units from BMED 373/3.0 and PHIL 157/3.0.

After completing BMED 373 Health Ethics, Law, and Policy, students will be able to:

  1. Build on skills developed in BMED173 in order to demonstrate increased awareness and understanding of the ethical and legal dimensions of healthcare provision and administration.
  2. Access, analyze and consolidate relevant health legislation and case law, professional codes of ethics and practice standards, institutional policies, and scholarship in order to facilitate decision-making.
  3. Use critical thinking skills, tools and resources in order to clarify what issues are at stake; bring together stakeholder perspectives, evidence and other contextual features; generate a wide range of options in alignment with law, values and duties; and make reasoned decisions about what is right, just or fair in particular situations.


As Collaborators, health professionals work effectively with other health care professionals to provide safe, high-quality, patient-centred care.


As Communicators, health professionals form relationships with patients and their families* that facilitate the gathering and sharing of essential information for effective health care.


As Advocates, health professionals contribute their expertise and influence as they work with communities or patient populations to improve health. They work with those they serve to determine and understand needs, speak on behalf of others when required, and support the mobilization of resources to effect change.


As Scholars, health professionals demonstrate a lifelong commitment to excellence in practice through continuous learning and by teaching others, evaluating evidence, and contributing to scholarship.


As Professionals, health professionals are committed to the health and well-being of individual patients and society through ethical practice, high personal standards of behaviour, accountability to the profession and society, physician-led regulation, and maintenance of personal health.

Assessment 1 – News Beat Assignment (10%)

Assessment 2 – Case Deliberations (30%)

Assessment 3 – Advance Directives Project (30%)

Assessment 4 – Case Analysis Paper (30%)

Required Texts

  • Course reader and notes prepared by the instructor.
  • Study resources including course and technology guides, and primers on critical thinking and conflict resolution.

Recommended Reading

Anthony Weston.  A Rulebook for Argument.  4th edition. Hackett Publishing Co., 2007.

Queen’s students, faculty, administrators and staff all have responsibilities for supporting and upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity. Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see http://www.academicintegrity.org) and by the quality of courage. These values and qualities are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and adhering to the regulations concerning academic integrity. General information on academic integrity is available at Integrity@Queen's University, along with Faculty or School specific information. Departures from academic integrity include, but are not limited to, plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification. Actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning, to loss of grades on an assignment, to failure of a course, to requirement to withdraw from the university.

Specifically, for BMED 373 Health Ethics, Law, and Policy, students must express themselves in their own words, and cite sources when they use outside information. Verbatim copying of the module text or textbook is considered plagiarism and is a breach of academic integrity. Further, lying and misrepresentation are dishonest and violate the core values of academic integrity.

All components of this course will receive numerical percentage marks. The final grade received for the course will be derived by converting the student’s numerical course average to a letter grade according to Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale.