Committee Opinion No. 693 Summary: Counseling About Genetic Testing and Communication of Genetic Test Results

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Abstract

Given the increasing availability and complexity of genetic testing, it is imperative that the practicing obstetrician–gynecologist or other health care provider has a firm comprehension of the benefits, limitations, and risks of offering a specific genetic test, as well as the importance of appropriate pretest and posttest counseling. The purpose of this Committee Opinion is to provide an outline of how obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers can best incorporate these tests into their current practices and provide appropriate pretest and posttest counseling to patients. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers should determine which tests will be offered as the standard in their practices so that similar testing strategies are made available to all patients. Practices should have procedures in place that ensure timely disclosure of test results to patients. As with any medical test, expectations regarding the performance of a genetic test should be discussed with the patient before the test is ordered. After counseling, patients should have the option to decline any or all testing. Pretest and posttest counseling should be done in a clear, objective, and nondirective fashion, which allows patients sufficient time to understand information and make informed decisions regarding testing and further evaluation or treatment. In addition to counseling each patient about her own personal risk, obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers should counsel patients regarding the risk for family members, including their potential to have affected offspring.

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