Notification and Disease Control: Obligations of the Medical Practitioner Under Public Health Legislation

  • Mark J. Ferson
Reference work entry


Effective disease control requires a strong partnership between clinicians and public health personnel. The vital role medical practitioners play is reflected globally in the obligation under health legislation for medical practitioners to notify the public health authority of specific details of named patients suspected of having these diseases. While the principle is universal that the notification include the identity of the patient, to allow prompt and direct public health action, if needed, jurisdictions have varying approaches to many other aspects of notification: the actual list of notifiable conditions; who must notify and based on what degree of diagnostic certainty; in what timeframe and with what specific details; what information is to be provided to the case; and who bears responsibility for contact tracing. In addition, in some jurisdictions, medical practitioners have associated statutory obligations and powers, related to the examination of a patient directed for assessment by the public health authority, the furnishing of reports of such examinations, the role of the practitioner in ordering a patient into isolation, and responsibilities of medical practitioners in public health emergencies. Following a concise historical survey, finishing with the impact of the International Health Regulations 2005, this chapter systematically discusses the statutory obligations of medical practitioners for disease notification and related provisions, taking examples from English-language public health legislation used in Oceania, Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Medical Practitioner Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Public Health Authority Public Health Emergency 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Health UnitSouth Eastern Sydney Local Health DistrictRandwickAustralia
  2. 2.School of Public Health & Community MedicineUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  3. 3.Sydney School of MedicineUniversity of Notre Dame AustraliaDarlinghurstAustralia

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