Infertility Counseling and Misattributed Paternity: When Should Physicians Become Involved in Family Affairs?

 

Stephen P. Pittman, Syed M. Alam, Tarris Rosell, and Ajay K. Nangia

 

Infertility specialists may be confronted with the ethical dilemma of whether to disclose misattributed paternity (MP). Physicians should be prepared for instances when an assumed father’s evaluation reveals a condition known for lifelong infertility, for example, congenital bilateral absence of vas deferens (CBAVD). When there is doubt regarding a patient’s comprehension of his diagnosis, physicians must consider whether further disclosure is warranted. This article describes a case of MP with ethics analysis that concludes that limited nondisclosure is most consistent with a physician’s principled duties to inform, to respect patients’ autonomy, and to employ nonmaleficence (including the avoidance of psychosocial harms).

 

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