Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 181–185

Do Physicians’ Legal Duties to Patients Conflict with Public Health Values? The Case of Antibiotic Overprescription


DOI: 10.1007/s11673-009-9155-4

Cite this article as:
Coleman, C.H. Bioethical Inquiry (2009) 6: 181. doi:10.1007/s11673-009-9155-4


Among the many explanations for antibiotic overprescription, some doctors cite the risk of malpractice liability if they deny a patient's request for an antibiotic and the patient's condition worsens. In this paper, I examine the merits of this concern—i.e., whether physicians could, in fact, face malpractice liability for refusing to prescribe an antibiotic when, from a public health perspective, the use of the antibiotic would be considered inappropriate. I conclude that the potential for liability cannot be dismissed entirely, but the risk is remote—even in cases where there is a chance that the antibiotic might have benefited the patient.


Over-prescription Malpractice Anti-biotics 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & PolicySeton Hall University School of LawNewarkUSA

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