Table 2. State Case Laws That Apply to Duty to Warn
|State Case Law||Description||Summary|
|Tarasoff versus Regents of the University of California [9,10]||Establishes moral duty to warn family members of risks unknown to them||In 1976, the California court judged that breach of confidentiality would have been justified in order to warn of a foreseeable and serious harm to an identifiable individual.|
|Distinct from genetic risk since the mutation is already present (or absent) in family members|
|Pate versus Threlkel [8,11,12]||Duty to warn family members of hereditary risk of cancer is satisfied by telling the patient to tell his or her family||In 1995, the Florida court judged that a physician had a duty to warn the patient that her children were at risk of developing thyroid cancer because the disease could have been detected and cured at an earlier stage.|
|Safer versus Estate of Pack [8,13]||Physician must take reasonable steps to warn family members of hereditary risk disease||In 1996, a New Jersey appellate court defined a physician’s duty to warn immediate family members of risk of colon cancer; however, the court ruled in favor of the doctor because the patient had undergone rectal screening as a child, which indicated that she had been warned of the risk.|
|Molloy versus Meier [8,14]||Physician’s duty regarding genetic testing and diagnosis of foreseeable disease risk extends beyond the patient to biological parents||In 2004, a Minnesota Supreme Court held that the physician failed to breach confidentiality to warn of hereditary disease risk because he did not inform parents of the diagnosis of fragile X syndrome in their first child. The parents state that this information would have influenced their reproductive decisions.|
- Offit K, Groeger E, Turner S, et al.: The "duty to warn" a patient's family members about hereditary disease risks. JAMA 292 (12): 1469-73, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Tarasoff v. the Regents of the University of California, 551 P 2d 334 (Cal 1976). 1976. Also available online. Last accessed October 16, 2013.
- Harris M, Winship I, Spriggs M: Controversies and ethical issues in cancer-genetics clinics. Lancet Oncol 6 (5): 301-10, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Pate v. Threlkel, 661 So. 2d 278 (Florida 1995). 1995. Also available online. Last accessed October 16, 2013.
- Sankar P: Genetic privacy. Annu Rev Med 54: 393-407, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Safer v. Estate of Pack, 677 A2d 1188 (NJ App), appeal denied, 683 A2d 1163 (NJ 1996). 1996. Also available online. Last accessed October 16, 2013.
- Molloy v. Meier, Nos. C9-02-1821, C2-02-1837 (Minn 2004). 2004. Also available online. Last accessed October 16, 2013.