Anticipate and Communicate: Ethical Management of Incidental and Secondary Findings in the Clinical, Research, and Direct-to-Consumer Contexts

 

Anticipate and Communicate is the Bioethics Commission’s sixth major report. In this report the Bioethics Commission offers specific recommendations for the management of incidental and secondary findings in clinical, research and direct-to-consumer settings.  Emerging medical technologies, changing cost structures, and evolving medical practice make the likelihood of discovering incidental and secondary findings across contexts a growing certainty. Such findings can be lifesaving, but also can lead to uncertainty and distress if they are unexpected or identify conditions for which no effective treatment is available.

The Bioethics Commission recommends that all practitioners anticipate and plan for incidental findings and communicate that plan to patients, research participants, and consumers so they are informed ahead of time about what to expect.  By anticipating and communicating, shared decision-making between practitioners and potential recipients can ensure the best way forward should incidental findings be found.