Dr. Gress: Genetic Testing And Morality

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Introduction Dr. Gress’s view that the results of a genetic test should be withheld from patients if they are positive is paternalistic, immoral, and does not consider the autonomy of the individual. He holds the position that notifying patients of their genetic status is too harmful and that it is a doctor’s duty to withhold information that could be devastating; however, in doing so, he violates many ethical principles that doctors should exercise. This paper will give an overview on the topic of genetic testing and the ethical and moral problems associated with it, an analysis rejecting Dr. Gress’s view, and a response to an objection to the thesis of which this paper is based on.
Presentation of Topic Medical professionals have been
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Gress’s position is not morally legitimate, and the ethical principles of nonmaleficence, beneficence, and autonomy render it morally wrong. Paternalism is strongly present in this situation: the patients were not asked whether or not they would like to be informed of the new information that their doctor acquired. Furthermore, Dr. Gress stated that he had “an obligation not to notify them” (Munson 328); however, doctors have a duty to tell even the unfortunate truths to their patients. What Dr. Gress decided was, “on the basis of his own values, that he knows what is best for another person” (Week 2 Ppt Slide 2). Also, he was denying the patients’ autonomy. In order for individuals to be self-determining, they need to possess all the necessary information to make decisions concerning their own life. Therefore, Dr. Gress infringed upon his patients’ autonomy by not notifying them and refused to recognize that they can make their own rational decisions. Thus, it is important for a doctor to know how their patient feels about a particular circumstance, and the best way to do so is by asking them directly. A survey of five hundred people found that fifty percent of them would want to take a genetic test, while forty-nine percent would not (Munson 224), which corresponds with those who would want to know the result of such a test and those who would not. Dr. Gress could have simply asked his patients whether they would like to know their genetic status—without going into…show more content…
Gress’s statement. Utilizing the principle of nonmaleficence, it is clear that not telling the patient may present itself to be harmful to them as it denies them full disclosure of their health status, even if what their doctor relays is not the best news or was not acquired at the request of the patient. Thus, if Dr. Gress informed his patients that they had the APOe gene, they would know their future health risks and could prepare for them should the test results actualize one day. Also, if the patient chooses to reproduce they will be able to inform their children that they might be at risk as well. Instead of withholding serious information from these patients, Dr. Gress should have helped provide them with the resources they needed to change their life in a way that proved most beneficial to those who may develop Alzheimer’s and refer them to others who could help them deal with this new information throughout their lives. It is a doctor’s duty to recognize the patient as an autonomous individual, at least do no harm, and help them in any way they—medically and
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