Various value problems are connected with the clinical examination of patients. The purpose of this literature review is to clarify: 1) in which patient examinations ethical problems are generally found; 2) what kind of ethical problems are found in the different phases of the examination process, and 3) what kind of ethical problems are found in connection with the use of examination results. Genetic testing, autopsy, prenatal and HIV examinations were ethically the most problematic laboratory examinations. The most problematic phase in the laboratory examination process proved to be the pre-analytic phase. At present the results of laboratory examination are used more and more often for the prediction of diseases. The problems appear when the examination results are used for discrimination and stigmatisation. Because of the lack of empirical ethical research, it is important to chart empirical knowledge about present value conflict situations involved in the laboratory examination process.
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Tarja Nyrhinen, MNSc, is a Medical Laboratory Technologist at the University Central Hospital of Turku. Helena Leino-Kilpi, PhD, RN, is Professor of Nursing Science at the University of Turku, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing. Address for correspondence: Tarja Nyrhinen, Medical Laboratory Technologist, University Central Hospital of Turku, Central Laboratory, Department 931, Kiinamyllynk 4-8, 20520 Turku, Finland.