Where do a doctor's responsibilities lie in communicating diagnostic and predictive genetic information to a patient's family members? On the one hand, a patient may wish to retain confidentiality while the relatives seek information; on the other, a patient may wish to share the information while the relatives would rather not know. This volume investigates the doctor's professional legal and ethical obligations in the context of these two familial tensions. The examination is conducted within the liberal-communitarian debate, whereby the two philosophies hold different perceptions of the individual and the relationship he or she has with others. Within this theoretical framework, the book examines the approach taken by English medical law and ethics to the communication of genetic information to family members. Legally, the focus is on tort law and the law of confidentiality. Ethically, it concentrates on the approach taken by the bioethical literature, and more specifically by codes of ethics and professional guidelines.
Contents: Preface; The liberal-communitarian debate in medical law and ethics; Formulating a family in genetics: a contextual framework; English tort law and the patient's family members; Medical confidentiality and genetic privacy; Who is the patient? the medical perception of the family; The status of family members - discussion and conclusions; References; Index; Index of cases cited.