Curbside Consultation

This department addresses legal, psychological, and ethical issues physicians may encounter in their day-to-day practice. Each article contains a brief case scenario, followed by a commentary section written by a consultant who responds to the particular issue addressed in the scenario.

Feb 1, 2003 Issue
A Mother Who Refuses to Vaccinate Her Child
Physicians may find it incredible that some parents are reluctant to immunize their children despite the tremendous successes of vaccines in decreasing the morbidity and mortality of childhood diseases.

Jan 1, 2003 Issue
Negotiating a Request for Nondisclosure
Although it is at odds with our predominant medical ethical culture, many families and patients desire nondisclosure of bad news. In several countries, including Greece, nondisclosure of difficult medical information is preferred.

Nov 15, 2002 Issue
When the Side Effect Is Really the Symptom
To improve compliance with medication regimens, the following recommendations, based on recent developments in the treatment of schizophrenia, may be useful.

Oct 1, 2002 Issue
Sexually Transmitted Disease: A Private Matter?
Confidentiality between physician and patient has long been regarded as a sacred trust. It is embodied in the Hippocratic oath and in the ethical codes of virtually all health-related professions. Yet it is widely recognized that the physician's duty to respect confidentiality is not without limit1; for example, when an identifiable third party might somehow be harmed by the agency of the patient or if there is concern for the public health.

Sep 1, 2002 Issue
A Hearing Problem
This brief vignette raises questions about the biopsychosocial aspects of presbycusis. The answers to these questions can help guide clinical strategies for patients with hearing loss and their family members.

Jul 15, 2002 Issue
A Pregnant Woman Victimized by Physical Abuse
Domestic violence in the United States is a problem of enormous proportions and represents a significant health concern.1 It results in more injuries requiring medical attention than rape, accidents, and muggings combined.

Jun 1, 2002 Issue
Can Friends Become Patients?
The negotiation of boundaries in patient care can be a difficult process in many circumstances. Perhaps the thorniest negotiation is the one alluded to in this case scenario—how does a physician decide if a friend should be accepted as a patient?

May 1, 2002 Issue
Isn't This Statutory Rape?
“Isn't this statutory rape?” our colleague asks. The answer is… “maybe.” Statutory rape laws were first enacted to protect minors from older predators. States differ considerably in the legal definition of statutory rape.

Apr 1, 2002 Issue
How Can I Help My Patient Stop Drinking?
There is no harder task than trying to help a patient who denies having a problem. Self-delusion and denial are key elements of alcoholism. Alcoholics may delude themselves into thinking that they are not drinking too much or that they can control their drinking.

Mar 15, 2002 Issue
A Group Practice Disagrees About Offering Contraception
This case concerns the justification of moral constraints that a physician group decides to apply to itself in the provision of patient services. Family physicians confront this issue with regard to reproductive medical services and state laws such as those in Oregon regarding physician-assisted suicide.

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