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Ethical preparedness in the clinical genomics laboratory: the value of embedded ethics expertise
  1. Gabriel Watts1,
  2. Ainsley J Newson1,
  3. Lisa Dive2
  1. 1Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Health Ethics, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Graduate School of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gabriel Watts, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Health Ethics, The University of Sydney Sydney Health Ethics, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; gabriel.watts{at}

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Sahan et al draw much needed attention to the ethical complexity encountered by clinical laboratory scientists. They point out that, on the one hand, clinical laboratories are increasingly required to analyse ‘much broader swathes’ of genomic information than had previously been the case and to consider how best to report—or not report—the results that arise. On the other hand, they also note how clinical laboratory services are supporting genomic testing that is transitioning from specialist to mainstream services, such that questions of whether and how to report genomic information must ‘accommodate the considerations of an expanded multidisciplinary team (MDT)’.1 These two factors, among others, increase both the ‘range and complexity’ of ethical dilemmas faced by clinical laboratory scientists. This trajectory will continue in line with trends towards further mainstreaming of genomic medicine, and the use of genomic sequencing (generating ‘much broader swathes’ of information) over more targeted approaches.

In this challenging environment, Sahan et al contend that the notion of ‘ethical preparedness’ (EP) has a crucial role to play. Here ‘EP’ is understood as a state of both systems and individuals that is characterised by the ‘capability, opportunity and motivation to respond to the ethical issues arising in a particular clinical situation, as well as being able to anticipate ethical concerns in advance in areas where practice is rapidly evolving’.1 Notably, cultivating the …

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  • X @biomedethics, @lisadive

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the ideas that informed this commentary proposal. GW wrote an initial draft, LD and AJN both contributed further ideas to refine the commentary. All authors approve the submitted commentary.

  • Funding This study was supported by the Department of Health and Aged Care, Australian Government (GHFM73390 (MRFF-G-MM)).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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