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November 22, 1985

Office Laboratory Series

Author Affiliations

Family Practice Center Laboratory North Carolina Memorial Hospital Chapel Hill; Veterans Administration Medical Center Portland; Bureau of Laboratories Department of Health Lionville, Pa; The Oregon Health Sciences University Portland; Bureau of Laboratories Department Health and Welfare Boise, Idaho; Medical College of Georgia Augusta; Medical College of Georgia Augusta; Portland; Chicago

JAMA. 1985;254(20):2940. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360200092036

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Until very recently the physician's office laboratory was a neglected aspect of outpatient medical care. The laboratory frequently consisted only of an old microscope tucked away in an unused corner of the office. Few tests were performed. Tests were often done by untrained staff. "Quality control" was an unrecognized term and seemed to be an unnecessary concern. Test charges were low and frequently were not passed on to the patient.

Those days are over. Office laboratories now perform half of all outpatient clinical laboratory procedures. A quiet technological revolution has made a wide spectrum of tests available to office laboratories, many of which a few years ago could be done only in specialized research settings. As a result of this revolution, office laboratory equipment manufacturers are now recognized as the financial growth leaders of the entire health care industry.

Recent financial incentives have helped to promote the transfer of laboratory