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Use and disclosure of genetic information without consent: a decision‐making tool for health practitioners – who, when, why and how?

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Background:  As a result of legislative changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), Australian health practitioners in the private sector are now permitted to use or disclose patients' genetic information, without their consent, in circumstances where the health practitioner reasonably believes that doing so is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of a genetic relative.

Aim:  This article aims to increase the reader's awareness of Guidelines developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council which are intended to assist health practitioners in making decisions about the use or disclosure of genetic information in certain circumstances.

Discussion:  The Guidelines establish when, by whom and in what manner, use or disclosure of genetic information may take place. The Guidelines outline the factors that health practitioners should consider when determining whether use or disclosure is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to an individual's life, health or safety.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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