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Alert over BP monitor accuracy

Fears that inaccurate automated blood pressure monitors may be missing cases of hypertension have prompted Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson to set up a working group to advise GPs.

The group is considering telling GPs they need to use different monitors for patients with different conditions.

The Department of Health said there were concerns over several recent reports of automated monitors under-recording blood pressure, particularly for conditions such as accelerated hypertension. A forthcoming EU directive will set a deadline to outlaw the use of mercury devices.

Professor John Potter, a member of the working group and chair of the British Hypertension Society blood pressure monitoring committee, said under-recording could mean some patients were not receiving the treatment they needed.

'There is a problem with new machines coming on to the market. No one knows how accurate they are,' said Professor Potter, professor of medicine for the elderly at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. He urged GPs to use only properly validated monitors while they await the advice of the working group next year.

Monitors approved by the society are on

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