Intended for healthcare professionals


Test providers should anticipate incidental and secondary findings, says US bioethics commission

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 16 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7525
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

Physicians, researchers, and organizations that provide medical testing services directly to consumers should anticipate possible incidental and secondary findings not directly related to the test’s primary purpose, says a new report from the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.1

Providers of such tests, ranging from genetic sequencing to brain imaging, should communicate with consumers on an ongoing basis so that consumers can make informed decisions about what tests they should have, what information they wish to receive, and how unexpected findings might be managed.

The commission defined incidental findings as “results that arise outside the …

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