How Many Ways Can A Physician Be Sued (Over Genetic Tests)?

How Many Ways Can A Physician Be Sued (Over Genetic Tests)?

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted November 4, 2008 in DNA Testing, DNA and the Law

gavelAmerican Medical News counts the ways in Judging genetic risks: Physicians often caught between what patients want and what science offers.

  1. Wrongful Birth/Life – Patients may sue physicians for not providing enough genetic testing or giving false negative test results.
  2. Pharmacogenomics – Patients may sue doctors for not ordering genetic testing before prescribing certain medications, such as Coumadin (warfarin)
  3. 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.
  4. 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

(3 comments)


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3 Comments

Comment by N/A

Increasing the number of GC’s and altering the training a little is the best approach. The second best approach is to train some NP’s in genetics (U of Cincinannati Children’s Hospital already offers some training).

The next approach is to educate the medical students about genetics. But that is usally only an 8 week course and they never have the subject matter again.

So a heavy education program needs to be funded to help doctors that don’t have the time to study it on their own…meaning, an educational program needs to be developed that is short and to the point that can help doctors learn about the current topics and when new topics arise. I already have an idea how to do this, but I need to find a software company that would accept my idea (my idea would for hospitals that have electronic records).

I just need to find a software company and hopefully their egos won’t stop me from at least being able to set an appointment up so I can explain my plan…..some have said I need to already have build the software myself and just sell it, but I’m a poor person with little money. So it looks like I need to apply for some type of grant.

 
Comment by Steven Murphy M.D. Subscribed to comments via email

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?

By offering corporate testing and not medical testing, the patient using your services may actually lose the ability to sue for malpractice. I am not sure a patient would want to lose that right……This is the case with medical devices and I am pretty sure the same will hold true for corporate testing vs medical testing…..

I wouldn’t want to give up that right to sue for malpractice, where the judgement is easier to achieve…….”more likely than not” would be the verbiage in a malpractice case not “beyond a shadow of a doubt”

-Steve
http://www.thegenesherpa.blogspot.com

 

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