Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub,
MD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: Dr Offit and colleagues1 conclude that, in general, physicians have a duty
to advise patients with genetic disorders of an obligation to inform their
relatives, but that physicians do not have a duty to breach patient confidentiality
to warn patients’ relatives directly. This is consonant with the beliefs
of the public.2 The authors argue cogently
that the precedent of the Tarasoff case3 may
not apply from a legal perspective because confidentiality still has an important
role in medical practice (now strengthened by Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act regulations), and genetic disorders may not have a
high penetrance and may not be treatable.
Sulmasy DP. Duty to Warn About Hereditary Disease Risks. JAMA. 2005;293(6):676. doi:10.1001/jama.293.6.676