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Commander's introduction.

Two years ago, the January-March 2010 issue of the AMEDD Journal highlighted important legal considerations across a number of areas of military medicine. The articles in that issue were provided by the legal professionals of the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps who specialize in supporting the Army Medical Department. Those articles undoubtedly reacquainted many Army medical professionals with the enormous legal complexities that surround the practice of medicine, whether military or civilian, and reminded us of the valuable support provided by the Army JAG Corps. These legal specialists, including attorneys, paralegals, and administrators, provide the counsel, assistance, guidance, and yes, sometimes intervention, that make it possible for those of us in the practice of military medicine to do what we should do best, care for the health and well-being of our Soldiers, their Families, and military retirees.

The articles in that issue focused primarily on legal considerations directly related to the practice of medicine, such as consent to treatment, risk management, human subject research, and off-duty employment. It was so well received that the Army Medical Command Staff Judge Advocate was asked for more published discussions of the legal aspects of military medicine. In response, MAJ Joseph Topinka, the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, has assembled another excellent collection of articles addressing additional vitally important areas of military healthcare delivery, including ethics, contracting, fiscal law, and agreements with civilian agencies and institutions. While, on the surface, some of those topics may appear to clinical practitioners to be someone else's problems, the articles in this AMEDD Journal illustrate the absolute folly of that idea. Every single day Army medical professionals have interactions involving contractors, funding, and procurement, just to name a few of the areas that may not seem to be of great concern in their daily activities. Unfortunately, an uninformed decision, a misguided involvement, or an incorrectly framed agreement can have serious ramifications, not only to an individual, but sometimes to an organization or to the mission of healthcare delivery itself.

Clearly, the practice of medicine is an intense, extremely complex responsibility, requiring years of education, training, and experience to achieve the necessary levels of competence and skills. Sadly, medical professionals must also cope with an extraordinarily complicated, exhaustively regulated, and highly litigious societal environment which affects virtually every aspect of their vocation. Fortunately for those of us in Army medicine, our partners in the MEDCOM Staff Judge Advocate are there to specifically help navigate that byzantine world of laws, regulations, rules, protocols, and restrictions as advisers, advocates, and sometimes defenders. Those legal professionals have also committed themselves to years of education, training, and experience to achieve their positions in the practice of law. They represent an invaluable resource that is absolutely necessary for AMEDD's primary mission to maintain a healthy, sustainable, combat-ready fighting force. Simply stated, we could not do it without them.

MG David A. Rubenstein

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Title Annotation:Perspectives
Author:Rubenstein, David A.
Publication:U.S. Army Medical Department Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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