Stephen Bartlett

At the beginning of Manhattan, the character Isaac Davis, narrates a series of introductions to a book he is writing. Each attempt to begin his novel is met with self-criticism and dispatched rapidly. Putting discussions on cancel culture to one side temporarily – and it will be revisited; I promise – this sequence highlights a dilemma faced by any person undertaking a writing project: what words to put in, in what order, and, importantly, what words to leave out. A book begins with a concept. The concept leads to content and this is what you see in front of you. However, that said, content can be delivered in several ways. This is tone. Setting tone – too irreverent, you are dismissed for being whimsical, and lose your target audience; not irreverent enough, you are dismissed for being dry, and you lose your target audience – is a balancing act. A bit like a patient’s blood pressure in the presence of traumatic brain injury. Additionally, style is a key component of writing. How to write is one thing, how to write well following accepted conventions is another thing entirely. It’s a miracle anything is produced at all.

Putting aside all the reasons not to do this to one side for a moment, here is the question I hope to provide an answer for in this Pressbook: what do healthcare professionals (HCPs) need to know to meet the requirements of patient safety and meet the requirements of their chosen healthcare profession? CSB338 is the only unit in your healthcare science degree that focusses on you. Other units tend to focus on how to help others, what treatments to use, what methods and procedures, and so on. This unit does this too. But mainly it focusses on helping you meet the requirements of your profession and the standards of your regulatory body. If you are achieving these standards you will be acting safely for your patients and advocating for them. How do you know you are meeting professional and regulatory standards? Where can I find information to help me do this? What if I am unfazed? How will you engage me? In time; all in good time.

The presence of COVID-19 has highlighted several significant issues: it has revealed some aspects of humanity that are good and need to be celebrated. It has also revealed less appealing aspects. COVID-19 has helped reveal shortcomings pointing to things ripe for revaluation and change implementation. CSB338 lectures are taking a holiday. Lectures will be substituted by this Pressbook. The Pressbook is a format that allows for different media to be housed in the one place, structured around different topics, and delivered in a way designed to engage students. How well you do in this unit depends on how active a participant you are in your own learning. How active a learner are you? How passive a learner are you? These are not rhetorical questions. Go on, be honest. How does learning happen for you? Is it like breathing (you may not always be aware of your breathing, but bear in mind breathing can be a laboured process)? Or are you more self-aware of your learning? Do you want to know more about the difference between your automatic and reflective systems, if you do, look at the footnotes?[1]

It is a very different proposition creating a Pressbook compared to standing in a lecture theatre and rattling through a series of PowerPoint slides. For one, using a Pressbook I must imagine indifference. Undaunted by this, contained here what I believe needs to be shared with you for you to reflect your chosen profession to the highest possible standard. Note, I will avoid referring to paramedics, nurses and students here. Instead, I will try to refer to aforementioned HCPs. Establishing yourselves as healthcare professionals is no mean feat. It requires time, effort and reinforcement. That’s why we are starting now.

I want students accessing this Pressbook to feel safe. Topics in this Pressbook cover mental health issues, domestic violence, child maltreatment, suicide, end-of-life care as well as other examples of violence, abuse and trauma. If anything in this Pressbook causes you concern please know that support is available. I will listen to concerns. In addition the following websites list additional support available to students impacted by subjects discussed in this Pressbook:




If anything in the Pressbook raises concerns for you, please reach out to obtain help and support. Being a front-line health professional can be traumatic. Knowing where and how to ask for help might make the difference.

Finally, welcome. I hope this Pressbook outstrips my own expectations. I hope you get what I believe you need out of it. And I hope you realise the importance of law and ethics in healthcare well before you realise you probably should have paid more attention.

[1] Thaler, Richard H., Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness (Penguin Books, Rev. and expanded ed. ed, 2009).


CSB338 Ethics and the Law in Health Service Delivery Copyright © by Stephen Bartlett. All Rights Reserved.

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