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October 24, 1977

Some Legal Problems of the Industrial Physician

JAMA. 1977;238(17):1849-1850. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280180053030

ONE of the industrial physician's most important responsibilities involves physical examinations of prospective or actual employees. When a physician is employed to physically examine a person in the interest of a third-party individual or corporation to determine the former's suitability for employment, a question arises regarding the relationship between the examining physician and the person to be examined. In Hoover vs Williamson1 the court said "that there is not a doctor-patient relationship between... a prospective or actual employee and the doctor who examines him for the employer." However, the court also noted that such a physician may incur liability where he "undertakes to render services which he should recognize as necessary to another's bodily safety, and leads the other in reasonable reliance on the services to refrain from taking other protective steps, or to enter on a dangerous course of conduct." If a physician fails to exercise due care