Refusal of viral testing during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Widespread testing for the respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) will represent an important part of any strategy designed to safely reopen societies from lockdown. Healthcare settings have the potential to become reservoirs of infectivity, and therefore many hospital trusts are beginning to carry out routine screening of staff and patients. This could promote the effective cohorting of patients and reduce the rate of nosocomial infection. However, for various reasons, some individuals may refuse this testing. Here we highlight this as an emergent ethicolegal issue which we expect to become increasingly relevant as testing becomes ubiquitous. We explore this position from an ethical and legal perspective, determining whether refusal of testing is acceptable under UK law. Individual patients refusing testing could undermine a hospital's testing strategy; therefore clinicians and policy makers must prospectively determine the best course of action if this were to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e163-e164
JournalClinical medicine (London, England)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2020


  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques/statistics & numerical data
  • Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening/organization & administration
  • Pandemics/prevention & control
  • Patient Compliance/statistics & numerical data
  • Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis
  • Refusal to Participate/statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/prevention & control
  • United Kingdom


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