Cuomo Requiring Written Permission For Testing on Predisposition to Diseases

Laboratories at one of the city’s largest university hospitals will be required to obtain written permission before testing whether patients are predisposed to genetic diseases, the state’s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, said yesterday.

Mr. Cuomo’s office wants to extend the agreement with New York-Presbyterian, the university hospital of Columbia and Cornell universities, as a best practice for testing statewide for propensities to diseases such as ovarian cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, Rashmi Vasisht, said.

Mr. Cuomo said the requirements will “empower patients” to decide whether they want the tests.

“To test or not to test for a predisposition to a disease is an important question with powerful implications for patients and their families,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

His office began investigating the matter after a patient in 2005 with a nerve disorder was confused about his rights after being told by his physician to be tested, Ms. Vasisht said.

Mr. Cuomo’s agreement with the labs is the first under a decade-old civil rights law requiring confidentiality for the results and written consent before they can be administered, Ms. Vasisht said.

Representatives of Columbia-Presbyterian couldn’t immediately be reached last night for comment.

{A great move by NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. No one should be tested for having the predisposition to a genetic disease without giving prior informed consent. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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