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August 12, 1998

The Need for an Outcomes Research Agenda for Clinical Laboratory Testing

Author Affiliations

Dr Lundberg is Editor, JAMA .

JAMA. 1998;280(6):565-566. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.565

"The frequency with which a laboratory test may be ordered varies from none to constant monitoring of all variables. What should be done? What constitutes good laboratory medicine? Should the physician order one of each available laboratory test on each patient once a lifetime, once a year, once an hour, or never? Many forces influence these decisions. Among them are availability of laboratory service, policies of technical instrument and reagent manufacturers, what the physician knows about the medical need for the test, and economic considerations, such as cost and who makes the profit or takes the loss. Laboratory tests should not be ordered without a plan for using the information gained. What will be done if the test result is normal? High? Low?"1,2

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