This unit will introduce students to the ethical and legal principles and values which underpin good paramedic practice. Students will develop knowledge and understanding about ethical issues in the prehospital setting and the legal processes and obligations of paramedics sufficient to enable them to provide effective care with minimal risk. Themes of client autonomy and self-determination, client rights, protective jurisdiction and professional responsibility are explored in the context of prehospital paramedic practice.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Explain and demonstrate understanding of ethical and legal terminology and abbreviations relevant to paramedic practice;  
  2. Locate relevant and important legislation, legal concepts and case law and discuss them with application to paramedic practice;  
  3. Examine ethical governance and the core bioethical principles relevant to contemporary health care provision and apply a framework for ethical decision making;  
  4. Analyse fundamental patient rights including autonomy, consent, refusal of treatment, privacy and confidentiality and their application in paramedic practice;  
  5. Discuss and analyse the legal and ethical obligations surrounding paramedic work from an industrial and professional perspective including occupational health and safety, complaints and the role of the Health Services Commissioner, negligence and liability, ambulance service governance and emergency management, use of drugs and driving emergency vehicles;  
  6. Discuss and examine the legal and ethical obligations surrounding vulnerable patients and protective jurisdiction including issues of domestic violence, child maltreatment and elder abuse, end-of-life care, sexual assault and mental illness.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Test Quizzes (30 minutes) 20%
Essay Ethical Dilemma Essay (1000 words) 40%
Case Study Case Based Theory Assessment (60 minutes) 40%

Required reading

Applied paramedic law, ethics and professionalism : Australia and New Zealand 2nd ed.
Townsend, R., & Luck, M. (2020)
Chatswood, NSW Elsevier Australia

RECOMMENDED TEXTS: Eburn, M. (2013) Emergency law: Rights, liabilities and duties of emergency workers and volunteers (4th ed.) Annandale, N.S.W.: The Federation Press

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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