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It is a brave author who attempts to cover the major clinical aspects of spinal surgery and the litigation relating to it in one slim volume. It is a heroic author who tries to do this in a style that will appeal to both the doctor and the lawyer. Legal sections are to be found at the beginning and end of this book, with two excellent chapters on ‘Why do patients sue their surgeons’ and ‘Risk management’. The middle section contains clinical chapters written in an authoritative style with helpful illustrations. Throughout the book, case histories help to illustrate management pitfalls. However, I found the analysis of the legal issues rather simplistic, and others may be left dissatisfied. Porter has a tendency to rely on the phrase ‘informed consent’ which is at best misleading and at worst a misnomer; valid consent is informed, informed consent is not necessarily valid. Although the author admits that the clinical information may be superficial for the specialist, I fear it may be too deep for the lawyer. As a handbook on legal medicine it lacks both depth and a target audience, but as a guide to ethical practice, or as a quick revision of spinal problems, this book is well worth the read.
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