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September 27, 2010

Responding to Incidental Findings on Research Imaging StudiesNow What?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Program in Medical Ethics, University of California, San Francisco.

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1522-1524. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.306

In clinical research, investigators may learn information about a participant that is not pertinent to the research question but that may have important clinical implications for the participant. Such incidental findings present ethical dilemmas. Although they may offer the possibility of substantial personal benefit to the participant, more commonly they are false-positive findings that lead to a cascade of further testing that presents additional risks and burdens. While these dilemmas also arise when incidental findings are detected on studies ordered in clinical care, the special role of researchers complicates the situation.

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