Minimizing liability risks under the ACMG recommendations for reporting incidental findings in clinical exome and genome sequencing

Genet Med. 2013 Dec;15(12):915-20. doi: 10.1038/gim.2013.135. Epub 2013 Sep 12.


Recent recommendations by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) for reporting incidental findings present novel ethical and legal issues. This article expresses no views on the ethical aspects of these recommendations and focuses strictly on liability risks and how to minimize them. The recommendations place labs and clinicians in a new liability environment that exposes them to intentional tort lawsuits as well to traditional suits for negligence. Intentional tort suits are especially troubling because of their potential to inflict ruinous personal financial losses on individual clinicians and laboratory personnel. This article surveys this new liability landscape and describes analytical approaches for minimizing tort liabilities. To a considerable degree, liability risks can be controlled by structuring activities in ways that make future lawsuits nonviable before the suits ever arise. Proactive liability analysis is an effective tool for minimizing tort liabilities in connection with the testing and reporting activities that the ACMG recommends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exome
  • Genetic Testing / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genomics / ethics
  • Genomics / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Informed Consent
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Malpractice / economics
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*