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October 1969

Reports to Health Authorities

Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;90(4):531. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770030533025

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A NEWS release from San Francisco in March 1968 records a $95,000 out-of-court settlement against two physicians who failed to report to health authorities that a patient had epilepsy. This patient killed one person and injured three others in an automobile accident, presumably as a result of an epileptic seizure. The California state law requires a physician to report to the local health officer, who contacts the State Department of Public Health, which notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles, of any patient who has epilepsy or who is subject to other types of blackouts such as those caused by diabetes. The Department of Motor Vehicles then decides whether that patient should be granted a driver's license.

Otolaryngologists should be aware of this new medicolegal problem, which could be extended to include Meniere's disease. In the past, many physicians have not made reports to the local health officer because they fear

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