Unlocking Genetic Secrets: Liability Risks for Genetic Testing and Information Providers

Introduction

Liability Risks Related to Genetic Information
The role of human genetics in healthcare has profound implications for physicians and patients. Genetic testing now is recognized for its role in the prevention, management and treatment of disease. The identification of genetic disorders has enabled physicians to predict which patients may be likely to develop a disease or condition, to prevent the development of the disease or condition in some cases, and in others to use genetically targeted medication to fight these diseases.

Although many benefits may be associated with the advances in genetic testing, there are also some risks. These include physical risks associated with the testing process as well as risks associated with the emotional, social, or financial consequences of the test results. Other risks may be associated with negligence of healthcare providers related to genetic testing or counseling. Risks may arise in the context of privacy rights related to the confidentiality of genetic information.

Injuries related to genetic testing or counseling, or the use or misuse of genetic information, may give rise to legal claims, which can result in high settlements and awards. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability should be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with genetic information, testing, or counseling.