Describe the public duties of a physician

Chapter 7

Public Duties of the Healthcare Professional

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

· 1. Define the key terms.

· 2. Describe the public duties of a physician.

· 3. Discuss the guidelines that should be used when completing a legal record or certificate.

· 4. List the information that must be included in a death certificate.

· 5. Describe the cases in which a coroner or health official would have to sign a death certificate.

· 6. List 10 reportable communicable diseases.

· 7. Discuss the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974.

· 8. Describe eight signs that indicate a child, spouse, or elderly person may be abused.

· 9. Discuss the federal legislation of controlled substances.

· 10. List and explain the five schedules of drugs.

· 11. Explain how an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help troubled employees.

Key Terms




Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD)


Controlled Substances Act of 1970




Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Forensic medicine



Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Medical examiner

Morbidity rate

Mortality rate


Probable cause

Public duties

Restraining or protective order


Vital statistics


Brian B. is taken into an exam room in the office of Dr. K. by the medical assistant, Amy. Amy gets into an animated discussion with Brian about their mutually favorite baseball team. As Amy leaves the exam room she accidentally places Brian’s medical file on the counter. While Brian waits for Dr. K., he reads through his file folder. He is shocked to discover that his recent test for AIDS came back positive. Brian panics and runs out of the office before seeing Dr. K. The doctor tries to reach Brian by phone but there is no answer. Dr. K. then sends a letter marked “Confidential” to Brian and explains that he must be treated for his disease and also needs to inform his sexual partners about his diagnosis. Brian does not respond to the letter.

· 1. What else can Dr. K. do to meet his obligation to report a communicable disease?

· 2. What responsibility does the medical assistant, Amy, have relating to this problem?

· 3. How might Brian be encouraged to report his condition to his sexual partners?

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