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Ethical implications of Italian legislation on ‘epilepsy and driving’
  1. Vilma Pinchi,
  2. Gian-Aristide Norelli,
  3. Viola Bartolini
  1. Department of Health Sciences -Section of Forensic Sciences, University of Florence, Institute of Legal Medicine, Florence, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Vilma Pinchi, Department of Health Sciences, Section of Forensic Sciences, University of Florence, Institute of Legal Medicine, Largo Brambilla 3, Florence 50134, Italy; pinchi{at}unifi.it

Abstract

The laws concerning driving licences and epilepsy in different countries are very diverse with regard to the criteria for issuance or renewal of licences, and also the methods of evaluating fitness. In 2011, a law was issued in Italy implementing the European directives on driving licences, including provisions for mandatory notification that a driver is epileptic. This was established regardless of the European rules that require compulsory notification only of patients. The Federation of Italian Boards of Physicians has made recommendations against mandated physician reporting, resulting in a current confusion between legal and ethical recommendations to medical doctors. The mandatory notification enacted by Italian law raises ethical concerns about disparities in access to care and possible violations of the right to confidentiality of patient information. Moreover, the law discussed here fails to emphasise the importance of physicians ensuring compliance by the patient, by sharing the correct information about the risks associated with illegal driving and by obtaining information from the patient through regular check-ups. An urgent revision of the law is required to implement the duty of the physician to provide information and to ensure that the rule about mandatory notification should be erased in favour of optional self-reporting by epileptics as the preferred way to notify the licensing authority. The implementation of these measures could correct the dichotomy between the law and the ethical recommendations for medical doctors and protect the rights of people with epilepsy as well as those of any other patients whose pathology or impairment could imply a risk to the community.

  • Public Health Ethics
  • Law
  • Neuroethics
  • Third Party Consent/Incompetents
  • Confidentiality/Privacy

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