Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters New diagnostic tests: more harm than good

All tests can sometimes cause more harm than good

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 01 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4070
  1. Jessica C Watson, GP and NIHR doctoral research fellow
  1. Canynge Hall, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK
  1. jessica.watson{at}

Hofmann and Welch warn of the downsides of diagnostic tests.1 “All screening programmes do harm . . . [but] some do more good than harm at a reasonable cost.”2 This provocative statement is arguably true of any test, not just screening or new diagnostic tests. The challenge for clinicians is to share decisions with patients—choosing the right test for the right patient at the right time.

Inflammatory marker tests, such as C reactive protein, …

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