Minn. court rules in genetic case
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 16, 2004
The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that physicians have a legal duty to inform the parents of a child they are treating about the genetic implications of a child's genetic disorder.
Kimberly Molloy sued three physicians for medical malpractice, claiming that they were negligent in failing to diagnose a genetic disorder in her child. She also claimed that the negligence caused the couple to conceive another child with the same genetic disorder. Physicians countered that they only had a duty to the first child, the person with whom the physician had a physician-patient relationship. The American Medical Association/State Medical Societies Litigation Center and the Minnesota Medical Assn. filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the doctors who were being sued.
In a ruling in late May, the Minnesota Supreme Court said it recognized that it is rare that a physician has a duty to anyone outside of the patient they are treating. But the court said this case is an exception.
"Genetic testing and diagnosis does not affect only the patient," the court wrote. "Both the patient and her family can benefit from accurate testing and diagnosis. And conversely, both the patient and her family can be harmed by negligent testing and diagnosis."
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/08/16/prbf0816.htm.