Experience with practice guidelines for medico-legal death investigations: The case of falls-related deaths in hospital Academic Article uri icon


  • Western philosophical and political thought has focussed on the significance of individual relativism. The legal system's approach to the investigation and regulation of medical practice is generally ad hoc and based on case law. In contrast, medical knowledge and understanding is progressively shifting towards a system of taxonomies and norms. Clinical guidelines and evidence-based medical practice are now commonplace in clinical practice. Due to the polarity of professional frameworks underpinning medicine and law, there has been an on-going struggle for the successful use of medical law that benefits both the quality of medical practice as well as its practitioners. This paper discusses the principles in developing and implementing a standard investigation tool for the coronial sector using the Falls Investigation Standard as an example, which has been in use for 12 months in the state of Victoria, Australia. It is hoped that using a standardised tool can balance the often conflicting tensions between medical and legal sectors by enabling an in-depth review of each issue while also strengthening the health system's capacity for self-regulation.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005