Clinical Laboratory - Molecular Diagnostics

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Legal, ethical and social implications of genetic testing

Who will have access to genetic test results and what effect will such information have on persons? Persons may be refused health insurance due to presence of genetic traits. Insurers may require persons wanting to get health insurance to provide the results of any genetic testing. What is the effect of knowing genetic test results on persons who now know they could pass a trait onto offspring? If a woman who is pregnant obtains genetic test results on the unborn child, will that affect her decisions during the pregnancy?

Do health care providers or health care institutions provide genetic testing information to their patient's family members or to employers? Is that information provided if it is incidental to other tests performed? If tests are not performed that are subsequently shown to have potential usefulness for choosing therapies, has the standard of practice been upheld?

These are just a small sample of the many legal, ethical and social implications that must be considered in the context of genetic testing. As a physician, one must weigh these considerations when formulating a decision to order such tests.

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