For Clinicians: Incidental and Secondary Findings

In December 2013, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released its report, Anticipate and Communicate: Ethical Management of Incidental and Secondary Findings in the Clinical, Research, and Direct-to-Consumer Contexts. The report outlines the types of findings that can arise from various tests and procedures in a variety of contexts, and makes 17 recommendations for the ethical and professional management of such findings.

This primer was designed to help clinicians understand and implement the Bioethics Commission’s recommendations regarding how to manage incidental and secondary findings ethically in the clinical setting. Clinicians can use it to aid ethical decision making and to address common questions about incidental and secondary findings and their ethical management. In addition, the final page of this primer provides a list of considerations to help clinicians evaluate whether they have prepared fully for the management of incidental and secondary findings.

Download the clinician primer here.

Clinicians can also access the patient primer, available below, and provide it to their patients to help them understand what to expect with regard to incidental findings. This conversation series primer was designed to help clinicians implement the Bioethics Commission’s first recommendation in Anticipate and Communicate: that practitioners should inform potential recipients about their plan for disclosing and managing incidental and secondary findings, including what findings will and will not be returned.  The hope is that these materials will help facilitate the type of shared decision making the Bioethics Commission recommends for doctors and patients.

Download the patient primer here.

Ethically Sound Episodes

The Bioethics Commission has launched a new podcast series entitled Ethically Sound.  

Each podcast is playable direct online from the link(s) below or from SoundCloud, iTunes or the Ethically Sound Playlist on Youtube.  Follow the hashtag #EthicallySound for launch announcements.

Safeguarding Children

Ethics and Ebola

Anticipate and Communicate

Privacy & Progress

Gray Matters

New Directions

Moral Science

Ethically Impossible

Bioethics for Every Generation

Charting a Path Forward

This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Foreign copyrights may apply.