American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion: Ethical Issues in Genetic Testing

ABSTRACT: Genetic testing is poised to play an increasing role in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology. To assure patients of the highest quality of care, physicians should become familiar with the currently available array of genetic tests and the tests' limitations. Clinicians should be able to identify patients within their practices who are candidates for genetic testing. Candidates will include patients who are pregnant or considering pregnancy and are at risk for giving birth to affected children as well as gynecology patients who, for example, may have or be predisposed to certain types of cancer. The purpose of this Committee Opinion is to review some of the ethical issues related to genetic testing and provide guidelines for the appropriate use of genetic tests by obstetrician gynecologists. Expert consultation and referral are likely to be needed when obstetrician gynecologists are confronted with these issues.

Type Guideline
CME Available No
Cost Free

Date of Resource 2014

Genomic Competencies

Experts from the disciplines listed below have tagged this resource as fulfulling genomic competencies.


  • Family History
    • P-FH1E:   Professionalism
      • 1E1:   Respect privacy of patient and family members in assembling and documenting family history
      • 1E2:   Explain to patient relevant social and legal risks related to family history as well as relevant legal protections
      • 1E3:   Recognize the potential of family history information to reveal unexpected family relationships such as consanguinity or misattributed paternity
  • Genomic Testing
    • P-GT2E:   Professionalism
      • 2E1:   Be aware of and comply with local and federal laws and regulations regarding use of genomic tests
      • 2E2:   Be aware of and responsive to patients’ concerns about genetic discrimination
      • 2E3:   Respect patient’s privacy and need to maintain confidentiality of genomic information
    • P-GT2F:   Systems-Based Practice
      • 2F1:   Explain who could have access to a patient’s genomic information
  • Somatic Genomics
    • P-SG4A:   Patient Care
      • 4A2:   Explain the benefits and limitations of somatic genomic testing to the patient, including implications regarding treatment of their condition and clarification of his/her prognosis
    • P-SG4D:   Interpersonal and Communication Skills
      • 4D4:   Communicate to patients potential implications for his/her family
    • P-SG4E:   Professionalism
      • 4E1:   Ensure that the patient is aware of what will happen with any tissue samples obtained