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"Bioethics for clinicians: Ethics and genetics in medicine"

Burgess, M.M., Laberge, C.M.& Bartha, M.K. "Bioethics for clinicians: 14. Ethics and genetics in medicine" (1998) Canadian Medical Association Journal, 158, p.1309-1313.



Abstract: Information about a patient's inherited risk of disease has important ethical and legal implications in clinical practice. Because genetic information is by nature highly personal yet familial, issues of confidentiality arise. Counselling and informed consent before testing are important in view of the social and psychological risks that accompany testing, the complexity of information surrounding testing, and the fact that effective interventions are often not available. Follow-up counselling is also important to help patients integrate test results into their lives and the lives of their relatives. Genetic counselling should be provided by practitioners who have up-to-date knowledge of the genetics of and the tests available for specific diseases, are aware of the social and psychological risks associated with testing, and are able to provide appropriate clinical follow-up. Some physicians may elect to refer patients for genetic counselling and testing. However, it is inevitable that all physicians will be involved in long-term follow-up both by monitoring for disease and by supporting the integration of genetic information into patients' lives.