World Association for Medical Law


World Association for Medical Law pic

World Association for Medical Law

Consultant Neurologist Dr. James C. Johnston is a Barrister of the High Court of New Zealand, a Fellow of both the Australasian and American Colleges of Legal Medicine, and an active member of many other professional organizations including the World Association for Medical Law (WAML).

Organized in Ghent, Belgium, in 1967, the purpose of the World Association for Medical Law is to encourage the study and discussion of health law, legal medicine and ethics, for the benefit of society and advancement of human rights. The aim is to promote the study of jurisprudence, legislation and ethics of developments in medicine, health care and related sciences; to address any matters that involve issues of medical and health law; and to encourage research and development in medical law.

The official publication of the WAML is the journal ‘Medicine and Law,’ which has been published for almost 40 years with authors from over 100 countries. The Kennedy Institute of Ethics labeled this journal as a “priority journal.”

The 50th Anniversary Meeting and 23rd WAML Congress was held on 9-14 July 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan with major sub-themes including medical law and bioethics. Drs. Mehila Zebenigus, Guta Zenebe and James C. Johnston presented a discussion on improving relations between developed and developing countries through guidelines that focus on advancing collaborative partnerships to improve health care. This topic followed their lecture last year at the Los Angeles, USA meeting discussing the medical, ethical and legal problems that arise when Western countries engage in short term medical missions to resource limited nations.

Drs. Mehila Zebenigus and James C. Johnston also discussed concerns related to neuroimaging for the patient presenting with headache. They recommended deleting the currently used guidelines because those guidelines are outdated, and have been a contributing factor in the misdiagnosis of headache disorders.

Drs. Thomas P. Sartwelle, James C. Johnston, Berna Arda and Mehila Zebenigus presented a poster highlighting the concerns related to using electronic fetal monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa, how that procedure causes more harm than good, and wastes scarce resources that would be better used helping children with cerebral palsy.

Legal and Forensic Medicine

Legal and Forensic Medicine pic

Legal and Forensic Medicine

Dr. James C Johnston is a board certified neurologist and barrister with three decades of experience. In addition to his consulting practice and charitable work through Global NeuroCare, he is a prolific author who has published peer-reviewed articles for a number of medical and law journals. Dr. James C Johnston has also contributed to over a dozen books including a chapter for the seminal authoritative text in legal medicine entitled Legal and Forensic Medicine, edited by Roy Beran and published by Springer Publishing (ISBN 978-3-642-32339-3).

A comprehensive multi-volume reference book, Legal and Forensic Medicine examines various aspects of legal medicine and ethics that define the fields of the 21st century. Topics addressed in this publication cover the full breadth and depth of legal and forensic medicine around the world, with practical applications in various international and intercultural frameworks. The text analyzes what the fields of legal and forensic medicine share and how they differ in terms of necessary qualifications and professional applications.

Contributing authors to Legal and Forensic Medicine hail from a number of countries and cultural backgrounds. There is a growing interest in the development of health law and legal medicine institutes around the world, and Legal and Forensic Medicine comes in on the ground floor of this burgeoning discipline to provide the foundation textbook for many courses, both undergraduate and postgraduate. It defines the place of legal medicine as a specialized discipline.​

“The Ethics of Teaching Physicians Electronic Fetal Monitoring”


Global NeuroCare pic

Global NeuroCare

A Neurologist, Partner with Global Neurology Consultants, and Founding Director of the nonprofit organization Global NeuroCare, Dr. James C. Johnston is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and a Fellow of both the American College of Legal Medicine and the Australasian College of Legal Medicine. Dr. James C. Johnston is a widely published author with recent articles appearing in the Neurologic Clinics; Medical Law International; Neurology; Surgery Journal; and several other peer-reviewed medical journals.

The Surgery Journal published two articles from Dr. Johnston and his colleagues, the most recent entitled “The Ethics of Teaching Physicians Electronic Fetal Monitoring – And Now for the Rest of the Story.” Dr. Johnston and his colleagues Professor Berna Arda and Thomas P. Sartwelle, composed an articulate critique of electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) as a method of predicting and preventing cerebral palsy (CP). The article draws upon Mr. Sartwelle’s decades of experience as a top medical malpractice defense attorney, Dr. Johnston’s considerable medical and legal expertise, and Professor Arda’s unique views of medical ethics gained by her years of teaching at Ankara University where she holds the Chair of Medical Ethics.

“The Ethics of Teaching Physicians Electronic Fetal Monitoring” reviews the history of EFM with a specific focus on CP. Citing the available literature, the article concluded that, not only has EFM proven ineffectual in the diagnosis and prevention of CP, it increases the rate of cesarean sections with concomitant harms to mothers and babies alike. Further, Dr. Johnston and his colleagues stated that EFM, as it is used in defensive medical practice, is a violation of patient autonomy and raises serious ethical concerns. The article may be accessed through the link below:

Obstacles to Epilepsy Treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa


Global NeuroCare pic

Global NeuroCare

A neurologist in private practice, Dr. James C. Johnston is also a partner with Global Neurology Consultants. In addition, Dr. James C. Johnston is the founder and director of Global NeuroCare, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving neurological services worldwide. Global NeuroCare focuses on sub-Saharan Africa.

As a region, sub-Saharan Africa faces a number of obstacles preventing treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Cultural beliefs play a major role in epilepsy treatment, with family members often hiding the condition, believing that seizures are caused by supernatural forces. People with epilepsy are generally shunned by society, and children may be prohibited from attending school. This phenomenon is not unique to the developing world, as people with epilepsy in developed nations may face various forms of discrimination.

Access to specialist neurology care also presents a major challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Seizure, the average round-trip transit time to rural epilepsy clinics in Ethiopia was more than 10 hours, and these are clinics without neurologists, imaging facilities or EEG equipment.

Because most antiepileptic medications are prohibitively expensive or simply unavailable, physicians typically only have access to the anti-epileptic drug phenobarbital. Not only does phenobarbital have numerous adverse side effects, it also limits neurologists in terms of treatment options. As such, it is not surprising that the International League Against Epilepsy cited consistent access to medication as the most important obstacle to bridging the treatment gap in sub-Saharan Africa.

Under the direction of Dr. James C. Johnston, Global NeuroCare works closely with the Addis Ababa University Department of Neurology in an effort to increase the number of locally trained neurologists, advance patient care and overcome some of the obstacles impeding neurological services.

American Academy of Neurology 2016 Fall Conference


American Academy of Neurology pic

American Academy of Neurology

Having received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX, Dr. James C. Johnston is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He holds additional certification in rehabilitation medicine. Practicing medicine for over 25 years, Dr. James C. Johnston specializes in neurology and is a member of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), World Association for Medical Law (WAML), and Fellow of both the American and Australasian Colleges of Legal Medicine.

Dr. James C. Johnston attended the AAN Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia in April of this year. The World Association for Medical Law recently held the annual Congress of Medical Law in Los Angeles during August 7-11 where Dr. James C. Johnston presented a lecture on The Ethical and Legal Challenges of Global Health Development. Dr. Johnston based this presentation on his work through Global NeuroCare, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.

Shortly before the WAML meeting Dr. James C. Johnston presented a written statement to the United Nations ECOSOC High Level Political Forum providing recommendations to improve global health partnerships.

Along with co-authors Thomas Sartwelle and Professor Berna Arda, Dr. Johnston also presented on Electronic Fetal Monitoring and Cerebral Palsy at the WAML meeting, following several recent publications on this topic with the same co-authors.