Latin, Law and Medicine

We are doing some forensics theory for two weeks. It’s a lot more work than the practical rotation I had at the beginning of the year, but also a lot less disturbing.

One of the specialists also has a law degree. They taught us something interesting: we can prevent justice from occurring. In a bad way.

Novis Intervenus Artis is a Latin term which directly translates to “by intervening with new art”. In medical law, it refers to the effects on a new intervention on a patient.

Here’s where it gets interesting:

You are on call in the ER. A patient is brought in with severe stab wounds and blood loss. He is unconscious. As part of resuscitation, you order two large-bore IVs. But because it is late on a Saturday evening, you forget in the rush to run the fluid through the line to eliminate air bubbles. 

A few seconds later the patient dies from a massive air embolism – which you inadvertently caused. 

It is likely that this patient would have died and that the person who assaulted him would have been found guilty of murder or manslaughter. But now he won’t, because your “new intervention” caused the death.

Do I sound like a fear monger? I don’t mean to be.

This scares me. Because I have lost loved ones to violence and because I believe in justice. And because I am a young medical student, soon-to-be a young professional: prone to mistakes.

3 thoughts on “Latin, Law and Medicine

    1. I’m sure they’ll at least be charged with assault, or intent to kill, or something. In South Africa we don’t have “degrees of murder” and I don’t know very much about the law, but they probably wouldn’t get off scott-free… I hope.

  1. We have degrees of murder here and forensic medicine is goryyyyyyyyy. Hell scary. I gave forensic exam yesterday and it was horrible :/

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