Category Archives: issues

Genetic testing for predisposition to deep vein thrombosis.

This post was posted to the gathbiotens blog. Student responses are accessible by clicking through to the gathabiotens blog using the link in the sidebar.

When Emma asked if she could go on this new pill for her skin, the doctor took a blood sample “just for some routine tests”.

As the doctor was aware that there is a family history of DVT on Mrs Brown’s side of the family, she ordered a gene test for the Factor V Leiden gene alteration, as another risk factor associated with thrombosis is the oral contraceptive pill.

Women who take this pill have a 4 times greater risk of DVT. However, if they also have the Factor V Leiden gene change, their risk jumps even higher, maybe even up to 20 or 30 times.

Neither Emma nor her parents were aware that this gene test was being done. Discuss this scenario and thefollowing questions.

  1. Should the doctor have obtained informed consent from Emma before ordering this gene test? (Emma is only 15, a minor in the eyes of the law)
  2. Should the doctor have obtained informed consent from Emma’s mother (Gayle) before ordering the gene test?
  3. What consequences might this gene test have for Emma and/or her mother in terms of potential discrimination in life insurance and employment?
  4. If Emma wishes to become a pilot or airline steward, should she be obliged to tell her employer by law?

Consider all these questions in terms of the four principles of biomedical ethics: Benefits, harms, individual rights and justice.