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MRSA screening branded 'unethical'

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Mandatory MRSA screening for elective patients in England is unethical, according to a leading microbiologist. .

MRSA screening was introduced for electives in April and will be extended to include all emergency admissions from the same time next year.

But Dr Michael Millar, consultant microbiologist at the Barts and The London NHS Trust, said: “Although the policy is presented as a population screening programme, most people who are screened will gain little benefit and may be harmed.”

He questioned the validity of consent for screening because patients are not told it results in high numbers of false positives, patients being placed in isolation and delays in treatment.

“Patients placed in isolation can suffer psychological and physical harms, partly as a result of the reduced contact with healthcare workers and others,” he saidwriting in the online version of the BMJ.

Dr Millar added: “As currently formulated, the Department of Health’s mandatory MRSA screening policy breaches ethical guidelines and should be reconsidered.”

 

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