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From person to patient

Screening will inevitably turn some people who test ‘positive’ into patients – a transformation not to be undertaken lightly.

‘If a patient asks a medical practitioner for help, the doctor does the best possible. The doctor is not responsible for defects in medical knowledge. If, however, the practitioner initiates screening procedures the doctor is in a very different situation. The doctor should, in our view, have conclusive evidence that screening can alter the natural history of the disease in a significant proportion of those screened.’

Cochrane AL, Holland WW. Validation of screening procedures. British Medical Bulletin 1971;27:3-8.

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