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Emory Law Journal Online

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Pursuant to the standard account of the law, physicians only owe special legal duties within the confines of an established treatment relationship. However, this well-accepted adage of black letter medical malpractice law does not, in fact, reflect reality. Indeed, the physician-patient relationship is rarely well-defined, and—perhaps more troublingly—courts have been willing to find liability outside of its boundaries. This Essay scrutinizes the notion that doctors have heightened legal obligations solely to their current patients. It concludes that physicians may be liable for far more conduct than the conventional account implies. It ends by suggesting ways to cabin this potentially unlimited liability.