Some legal aspects of genetic screening
Roscam Abbing, H.D.C.
Medicine and Law 2003; 22(3): 401-409
Screening activities in health care are not always useful and sometimes harmful. The mere offer of a screening test puts the individual's autonomy under constraint. With genetic (predictive and risk assessment) tests, the right to free, informed consent and to protection of privacy and medical confidentiality is even more warranted. Screening evokes many questions from the perspective of the right to health care as well as (in particular with genetic screening) from the perspective of respect for individual human rights. Fear of liability puts pressure on professional restraint not to offer every screening test available. States have to take legislative measures for guaranteeing that only those screening activities become available that can significantly contribute to individual and public health. They also should consider additional rules for protecting individual rights where those that are generally accepted in the "ordinary" medical setting (the individual patient-doctor relationship), offer insufficient protection.
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