Intended for healthcare professionals


Huntington’s case raises questions about passing gene test results to relatives

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 18 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2433
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Doctors could come under a new duty of care to the families of patients with hereditary illnesses, after the Court of Appeal ruled that a test case should be heard by the High Court in London.

Three appeal court judges unanimously overturned a 2015 decision by a High Court judge to throw out a claim against three NHS trusts by the daughter of a man with Huntington’s disease.1 The unnamed woman’s father was convicted of manslaughter in 2007 after shooting her mother dead. He was sentenced to a hospital order and detained at Springfield University Hospital, run by South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.

Doctors there began to suspect that he had Huntington’s disease and referred him to St George’s Hospital, part of St …

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