We interviewed, Dr. Supreet Gill, on her upcoming book, ‘Law Relating to Health Care and Technology‘. In this interview, she takes us through the book, the story of getting it published, and about her career as an academician and writer. You can check out the book here.
Can you tell us briefly what this book is about?
The book is titled “Law relating to Health Care and Technology” and it is divided into three parts, namely: Law relating to Health Care; Law relating to the use of Medical Technology and Law relating to Conduct of Medical Professionals which is further divided into 20 Chapters in total. The first part deals with issues like the concept of health and health care, right to health, public health legislations, occupational health, law relating to health of women and children, health law relating to persons with disability, and mental health law. The second part of the book explores the interface between law and medical technology wherein issues like regulation of diagnostic technology including reproductive technology, organ transplant, medical waste disposal, and the upcoming topic of telemedicine are addressed. The last part deals with the statutory expression of rights as well as obligations of medical professionals including what amounts to medical negligence and what doesn’t.
What prompted you to write this book?
Based on my experience in research and teaching this subject, I have noticed that students often struggle to find an exhaustively compiled literature on the same. There are several textbooks and commentaries on Medical Jurisprudence but they address topics related to Forensic Science and Toxicology. Unfortunately, when it comes to Health Care Laws and emerging areas like telemedicine, surrogacy, cryonics and legislations on the use of medical technology, there is a lacuna in legal literature.
In my opinion, there existed a scope for a comprehensive textbook that would entail both laws and judicial decisions related to Health and Medical Technology. Therefore, what prompted me to write this book was the gaping vacuum that existed in their area of law. The purpose of this book is to produce an all-inclusive literature on the interface between law and medicine. At the risk of sounding informal, I dare say that this book is intended to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for law students, medical students, researchers, lawyers, doctors, etc., or anyone who is looking for literature on any topic related to the regulation of health and medicine.
Who is the book aimed for? Please tell us how people from different groups will find this book useful.
This text is intended for law students, medical students, legal academicians, practicing lawyers, and physicians. Additionally, owing to corporate healthcare culture, hospital administration is becoming a popular field among MBA aspirants. However, there is very less literature available that caters to all of the aforesaid students since the language in most legal literature is too scholarly and technical for them to understand. This book has been made simple both in terms of language as well as the layout of topics. The key strength of the book is the sheer volume of topics it covers. For purpose of clarity, the book has been divided into three different parts and each part addresses issues that fall under its sphere. This would help a student to appreciate the difference between key areas of law relating to health care, the law relating to the conduct of medical professionals, and the law relating to the regulation of the use of medical technology.
The highlight of the book is its simple language and detailed explanation of all medical and legal terms which makes it easy to understand. Therefore, it is my hope that this book will also be useful for medical professionals and medical students as a potential reference text in the context of Part II and III of the book. Additionally, there is a rise in legal consultants in the field of medical laws and each hospital has its own legal team who takes care of litigation and compliance for them. I am hoping that this book will be significantly helpful to professionals working in that area i.e. hospital administration.
The subject matter dealt with in the book ranges from health care laws, use of present medical technology and laws relating to developing medical technologies which are not yet regulated by a statute. This book highlights several concepts in light of COVID-19 as well. In addition to students, academicians who are teaching or researching in this area of law will also find the book helpful as it covers an extremely wide range of topics that have been dealt with in detail. Also, this book has a lot to offer to practicing advocates as it covers a very wide timeline of judicial decisions ranging from 1980’s to 2020.
What are some interesting discoveries you had while working on the book?
Honestly, this book turned out to be more of a “self-discovery” rather than a discovery of facts. It has been a tremendously arduous journey which helped me re-discover the academic inside me. I have always been very passionate about teaching, however, due to the professional and personal commitments of being a working mother, I could not devote a lot of time to pure research which according to me is vital for analytical thinking and writing. During the pandemic, I believe some of us had the good fortune to revisit our talents which could not be otherwise explored due to the paucity of time. By June 2020, I realized that Covid-19 was here to stay and things might not go back to “normal” anytime soon. So I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and started working on compiling this book.
Additionally, researching for this book involved reading a plethora of judicial decisions and the history of each legislation. Some of the most fascinating discoveries made during the process of writing were in these two areas. History is like a mirror that reflects the journey “today” had to make to reach the present. The history of several legislations helped me understand the process of judicial decision-making and how a change in societal values has influences that process.
Has COVID-19 impacted the study on health laws? In what way?
Yes!! Absolutely, during the pandemic, the scenario of healthcare changed drastically. People suddenly realised the importance of health and health care. I believe what changed most drastically during the Covid-19 period is our perception towards health. We no longer ignore our health- physical or mental health; or take it for granted. People have started paying more attention to being healthy and feeling good rather than just looking good.
Also, this book is dedicated to the “invaluable lives lost to Covid-19”. It is a token of gratitude to all the front line workers who worked tirelessly during this period. I think the entire world realized the importance and value of healthcare workers and being a daughter and a sister of doctors, I have had the first-hand experience to document their journey which has been depicted in Chapter 20.
How does health law interact with technology? Currently, a lot of discussion is ongoing on technology law. Where do you see health laws fitting in that scenario?
Law is dynamic and ever-changing and new precedents are set every year, sometimes every month. There are several aspects of health and medicine that are regulated and several which are unregulated. Where law addresses issues related to health and medicine there is always scope for improvement, as science and medical technology are growing at a pace that law can seldom catch up with. There have been several such developments lately and there is a dearth of text which addresses all these issues-both regulated and unregulated, and presents legal pronouncements in the field which lay the foundation for future laws. In this book, my intention is to cover each and every topic that falls even slightly within the realm of health, medicine, or medical technology so that students save time and effort looking and researching on the same. A common adage says, “health is wealth” and I think the focus now has shifted largely to the healthcare sector. The budget allocated to healthcare in 2021 is reflective of this paradigm shift.
Any word of advice for people wanting to make a career in this field?
First advice would go out to law schools across the country, who in my humble opinion should elevate the status of this subject to a compulsory course in their curriculum. The year 2020 has been an eye-opener and learning experience for all of us which forced everyone to sort out their priorities. I think that teaching and research in this area of law should be made a priority. It is encouraging to know that several law schools across the country offer this course at an under-graduate and post-graduate level. For others, it is strongly recommended to introduce this course at the earliest.
It is my belief that litigation and legal arena in the near future will belong to health and technology lawyers as the consumer’s, patient’s, and the general population’s priority has now readjusted itself to health and quality health care. The patient of today is more aware of his rights than ever before; the regulation of health care has received unprecedented attention from the government. In light of this, I feel, soon there is going to be a huge demand for lawyers who specialise in health law, and it pertinent that the present generation of lawyers equip themselves for the flood gates of work that will come their way.
Your professional journey is also fascinating. Two LLMs, Two Diplomas, Ph.D. You’re also pursuing an M.A in Psychology. How has that journey been like? What is your opinion on life as an academician? How do you see that intersecting with the practice of law, since you have experience here as well?
Perception is all about the chosen vantage point. Today in my late thirties when I look back at my “romance with law” (as I call it) which started at the age of 17, I feel content with what I have achieved so far and I am hopeful for the aspirations which still remain unfulfilled. If my professional journey is perceived as fascinating or inspiring to the younger generation, especially women, I believe . . that is my real achievement in life. My alma maters, Symbiosis Law School, Pune; London School of Economics (LSE), U.K.; NLSIU, Bangalore, and Panjab University, Chandigarh have played a key role in shaping and refining my academic mind. In these places, I have had the opportunity to interact and draw inspiration from some of the finest minds in academia. My mentors, both at LSE (Prof. Anne Baron) and Panjab University (Prof. Shalini Marwaha) have left a deep impression on me and my work ethic.
My journey as an academician started in college (Symbiosis) when I started coaching my friends before exams. It was those sessions that helped me find my calling. . . Teaching!!! My formal journey as an academician has been almost 10 years long, all of which has been spent at UILS, Panjab University. In my opinion, it is the most fulfilling job in the world. In fact, it’s not a ‘job’ at all for me. The time spent during lecturing is the time I feel most true to myself. Most close to who and what I really am. We, the teachers have this huge responsibility of encouraging and nurturing young minds, who are going to be the Harish Salves and Indira Jai Singhs of tomorrow. Having said that, I am mindful of the long-lasting consequences that we as teachers might have on these young minds; and I pray to God to give me the wisdom to help me uplift my students in the course of my interaction with them.
In today’s day and age, law intersects almost all aspects of our lives. There is hardly any facet of life, both as an individual, as well as a society that does not cross paths with law and the interface between law and psychology sits at the centre stage. The branch of Psychology, I feel serves as “one key to many locks”. Obviously, criminal psychology is the most widely studied field of that interface; but for me, the study of psychology is a journey I embarked on to better understand and help those around me, especially my students who come to us at the university at one of the most impressionable stages in life. My goal as an educator is to help them form the right impression. My goal as an educator is not to show them the destination but to merely give them instructions, so that they don’t need anyone’s help in finding their destination. Not even my help!!!
While all interviews talk about the successes of the interviewee. We also want to show the human side to them. Can you please talk about the failures which you encountered while writing this book? What were your learnings from these?
Personally, my failures are dearer to me than my success (not that I consider myself successful; the journey has barely begun). Believe it or not, I have dedicated a special paragraph in my “Acknowledgment” to people/situations who rejected me or doubted me or induced self-doubt in me. And my God knows I have made that acknowledgment with only veneration and humility.
Failures are learning experiences/opportunities in disguise. How we react to our “perceived failure” determines our real success or failure in life. There is no denying that failures and rejections hurt. My advice is that don’t elude or brush aside that feeling. If you have faced a rejection or a failure, let that feeling take over you completely, let it consume you, sit with it for 15 minutes- feel like a total failure- and then let it go. Let the feeling slip through you like sand slips through your fingers, and then ask yourself- “Am I going to let this rejection/failure define me or my next step?” NO !!!
Being a first-generation lawyer and a first-time author comes with its challenges. I cherish all those emails of rejections from publishers and publishing houses who replied saying that the area of law which I had embarked on exploring was “too niche” and hence not important.
Yes, this area of law is too niche, and that is where the book draws its strength from.
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