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Stimulating professional collective responsibility from the outset in mainstreaming genomics
  1. Maria Siermann1,
  2. Amicia Phillips1,2,
  3. Zoë Claesen-Bengtson1,
  4. Eva Van Steijvoort1
  1. 1Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  2. 2Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eva Van Steijvoort, Public Health and Primary Care, KU Leuven, Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium; eva.vansteijvoort{at}

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Owing to technological advances, genomic medicine is moving from specific to broader genetic analyses and from specialised to mainstream services. Sahan et al1 point to complex ethical cases encountered by clinical laboratory scientists in the context of genomic medicine’s expansion. The authors discuss debates on interpreting and reporting genetic results, offering extended genetic testing and differences in the perceived responsibility of clinical laboratory scientists in different settings. As demonstrated by the case examples in the article, while genomic medicine holds the promise of providing clinical answers, its mainstreaming can introduce a new type of ‘odyssey’ for patients and/or relatives, such as when there are uncertain findings. The integration of genomics in healthcare at large can also impact communication decisions and perceptions of responsibility for clinical laboratory scientists. Clinical laboratory scientists might report less to non-specialists than to genetic/genomic specialists, as they feel responsible for minimising the potential of non-specialists misunderstanding, misinterpreting or miscommunicating the genetic findings to patients.1 In this way, the perceived responsibility affects patients and the type and amount of genetic information they receive.

We agree with the authors that current limitations in knowledge and capabilities among non-specialist clinicians necessitate identifying effective ways to communicate outcomes and …

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  • MS, AP and ZC-B are joint first authors.

  • X @mariasiermann, @ZoeClaesen, @eva_vst

  • Contributors EVS, MS, AP and ZC-B developed the concept of the commentary, EVS wrote the initial draft of the abstract with support from MS, AP and ZC-B. MS wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. All authors were involved in editing the submitted version. MS, ZC-B and AP are joint first authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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