by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted November 4, 2008 in DNA Testing, DNA and the Law
…American Medical News counts the ways in Judging genetic risks: Physicians often caught between what patients want and what science offers.
- Wrongful Birth/Life – Patients may sue physicians for not providing enough genetic testing or giving false negative test results.
- Pharmacogenomics – Patients may sue doctors for not ordering genetic testing before prescribing certain medications, such as Coumadin (warfarin)
- Negligent Medical Advice – Patients may sue a doctor who does not warn them of shared familial genetic risk of disease. Judges in a 2004 Minnesota Supreme Court case ruled that physicians had a duty to both patients and their biological family members to inform of them of genetic testing and diagnosis.
- Personal Beliefs Over Patient Rights – Physicians may not be able to claim “right-of-conscience” when it comes to denying patients genetic testing on the grounds of religious or moral beliefs.
Patients should also keep in mind that their physician may not be well-versed in genetics and is most probably not up-to-speed on the latest available genetic tests. Considering the complexity of genetics, can we expect busy doctors to keep abreast of the field? Perhaps one solution is to increase the number of genetic counselors available and making their services affordable and commonplace. On second thought, isn’t that what some direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies are aiming to do?
*Yes, I am affiliated with DNA Direct that offers pre- and post-test education and expert consultation on genetic tests.
Photo credit: Joe Gratz
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