Clin Genet. 2012 Mar 7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2012.01868.x. [Epub ahead of print]
Whole Genome Sequencing and the Physician.
SourceCentre of Genomics & Policy, Faculty of Medicine, Human Genetics Department, McGill University, 740 Av. Dr. Penfield, Montreal, Canada H3A 1A1; (Present address) Dept of Health, Ethics & Society, Maastricht University PO BOX 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands; Research Schools GROW and CAPHRI, Maastricht University, PO BOX 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.
AbstractThe advent of whole genome sequencing (WGS) in the clinic generates significant uncertainty for physicians over the legal and ethical obligations owed to patients. This paper discusses the impact of WGS on four internationally recognized obligations of physicians: the duty to obtain informed consent, the duty to treat, the duty to follow-up, and the duty of professional secrecy. Informed consent must be adapted to address the ''incidental findings'' that accompany WGS. There is uncertainty over the extent to which physicians must stay abreast with rapid advances in genomic technology and science in order to fulfill their duty to treat. It is also unclear whether the duty to follow-up requires physicians to re-contact patients as the meaning of test results change over time. Finally, the familial nature of genetic information could create tension between patient confidentiality and the physician's emerging ethical duty to inform patients' relatives of shared genetic risk.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
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