Prenatal genetic screening

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 51, No. 6, July August 2009, Page 245 Letters

The BC Perinatal Health Program has unveiled its new Prenatal Genetic Screening Program, with mailings of an algorithm and pamphlets to be handed out to patients.

The program is very good, with an algorithm that is clear and easy to follow. The recommendation with nuchal translucency (NT), however, I believe, puts us practitioners in a very awkward medicolegal position. The protocol directs that NT be recommended for pregnant women aged 35 to 39 “if available.” However, when a requisition is submitted under such circumstances to either the BC Wo­men’s Hospital or Surrey Memorial Hospital (I have not canvassed other hospitals), the requisition is rejected citing “clinical situation does not meet criteria.” I understand that NT need not be offered if the test is not available. However, in such instances, the aforementioned hospitals should issue statements that NT is not available. Otherwise, the implication is that it is available. In such a case, for us to not recommend it would expose us to medicolegal difficulties in the unfortunate (albeit maybe rare) circumstance that a positive case is not picked up by a Serum Integrated Prenatal Screen. On the other hand, if we choose to protect our own behinds by submitting requisitions, fully expecting rejections, the patients would get confused and worried that they are missing out on a test that is recommended by the powers that be!

—Peter Yeung, MD

Peter Yeung, MD,. Prenatal genetic screening. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 6, July, August, 2009, Page(s) 245 - Letters.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply