Purpose/Objectives: To review issues regarding the use of genetic materials and information.
Data Sources: Professional literature, regional and federal legislation.
Data Synthesis: An analysis is provided of the relationship among advances in genetic technology, use of genetic material and information, and the development of laws that protect the interests of donors, researchers, and insurers. Rapid technological achievements have generated complex questions that are difficult to answer. The Human Genome Project began and the scientific discoveries were put to use before adequate professional and public debate on the ethical, legal, social, and clinical issues. The term 'proper use' of genetic material and information is not defined consistently. An incomplete patchwork of protective state and federal legislation exists.
Conclusions: Many complicated issues surround the use and potential misuse of genetic material and information. Rapidly advancing technology in genetics makes it difficult for regulations that protect individuals and families to keep pace.
Implications for Nursing Practice: Oncology nurses need to recognize their role as change agents, understand genetic technology, and advocate for patients by participating in the debate on the proper use and prevention of misuse of genetic material and information.