Commission Plans Next Project: Ethical Implications of Incidental Findings

Commission Chair Amy Gutmann, Ph.D. announced at Commission meeting twelve in Miami that upon completion of the Commission’s work on pediatric medical countermeasures the Commission would focus on the ethical implications of incidental findings.  Incidental findings are data gleaned from medical procedures or laboratory tests that were beyond the aims or goals of the particular laboratory test or medical procedure. Commission members discussed several fields in which incidental findings raise serious ethical questions, such as neurology and genetics, in addition to various settings such as clinical and research. The implications of how incidental findings are handled affect research participants, patients, consumers, and healthcare professionals. The Commission’s bioethical inquiry likely will include the importance of what patients and participants are told by healthcare professionals not only after a procedure or a test is performed, but before as part of the informed consent process.


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