Lea, D.H. (2008). Genetic and genomic healthcare: Ethical issues of importance to nurses. Online Journal of
Issues in Nursing, 13(1), p. 6.
Consider the following scenario:
You are a nurse in a family practice clinic. Mrs. Joan Smith is a 43-year-old patient that has received her
primary care at the clinic for over twenty years. Additionally, Mrs. Smith’s sister and mother are patients at the
clinic. Recently, Joan underwent genetic testing that was positive for heredity breast/ovarian cancer. A plan is
developed to increase surveillance for these cancers in an effort to ensure early detection. As her relationship
with her sister is strained, Joan does not wish to share this information with her family members. Her sister has
a one in two chance of carrying the same gene mutation and carries the same significant risk of developing
cancer (Lea, 2008).
In the United States, you do not have the legal authority to reveal this information to family members without
permission from the patient. However, this information could be potentially life-saving for the sister.
Interestingly, in the United Kingdom, this information can be released to family in certain situations. In this
paper, you will look beyond the legal duties that we currently must abide. In this paper, examine what you think
is ethical and what the legal repercussions to your choices are.
- Post a 3-5 paragraph original posting in the designated discussion board related to the ethics involved in fair
use of genetic information and patient confidentiality while considering the following questions:
As the nurse, do you have an ethical duty (not legal duty) to protect Mrs. Smith’s privacy at all costs? In all
Do you have an ethical duty to act in the best interest of the uninformed sister? Discuss the dilemma and its
implications in your posting.
Decide which question you support and provide scholarly content to support your choice in your discussion.
Also, consider the bullet points below:
What ethical principle or theory would support your choice?
Do you think that HIPAA regulations need to be amended to address the use of genetic information? Why?