Prima Facie Duty

Prima facie duty is a duty or obligation that must be acted upon before any other considerations enter the picture. Prima facie means “at first glance.” When faced with a conflict of prima facie duties, the clinician is called upon to always act with the stronger duty.4 Sometimes this is examining the rightness or balance of right over wrong. For example, the dentist or dental hygienist who suspects child abuse should place the welfare of the child over the autonomy of the parent. The stronger duty in this instance is the good of the child, not the right of the parent.