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Epilepsy, Epileptic drivers, Physician patient confidentiality, Medical privacy, Physician as agent of social control, Physician as target of social control, Antidiscrimination laws, Malpractice liability, Epilepsy defense, Harbeson v. Parke Davis, Tarasoff v. Regents


Law and Society | Medical Jurisprudence | Torts


Physicians who care for patients with epilepsy may function as agents or targets of social control. As agents, they may assist in the identification and control of epileptic drivers, may provide information that enables fair and appropriate job placements for epileptic persons, and give testimony that helps the legal system resolve issues relating to the liability of epileptic persons for harm attributed to seizures or interictal behavioral disturbances. As targets, they may be charged with negligent failure to diagnose, treat, or inform about epilepsy or its associated problems, with failure to exercise due care in protecting persons harmed by their patients, or with failure to preserve confidentiality of medical information. Although legislation and judicial decisions have defined some of the physician’s legal duties with reasonable clarity, areas of uncertainty remain, particularly regarding the issue of violating medical confidentiality for the benefit of persons other than the patient.

Publication Citation

H. Richard Beresford, "Legal Implications of Epilepsy", 29 Epilepsia S114 (1988)