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February 1990

Presentation of False-negative Test Results

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics University of Wisconsin Meriter Hospital 202 S Park St Madison, WI 53715
University of Wisconsin Hospital 600 Highland Ave Madison, WI 53792

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(2):137. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150260015002

Sir.—Taubman et al1 in the January 1989 issue of AJDC discuss an extremely important issue—use of a rapid latex agglutination test for the detection of group A β-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis in an office setting. Their study design demonstrates the importance of comparing a new test with "the gold standard" (ie, a reference laboratory culture) as well as with the customary test (ie, throat cultures incubated and interpreted in the pediatric office). The authors introduce a term, "percent of false-negative results (% FN*)," that they define as follows:

where TN indicates true negatives; TP, true positives; and FP, false positives.

In a situation like this, the risk of undetected group A β-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis (ie, the false-negative tests) is usually communicated by the negative predictive value (PVneg) of the test, an established and frequently used term in clinical epidemiology. If the authors wish to refer to the proportion of

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