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May 21, 2014

JAMA Diagnostic Test Interpretation: A New Series

Author Affiliations
  • 1Deputy Editor, JAMA
  • 2Senior Editor, JAMA
  • 3Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA. 2014;311(19):1977. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.4368

Rapid technological advances in medical care have vastly expanded methods for identifying and characterizing disease. Diagnostic tests provide some, but not all, of the information necessary to understand diseases. The meaning of test results is not always clear. Many reports of test results contain complicated and often indecipherable information as well as descriptions of incidental findings and suggestions for follow-up.

Because diagnostic testing occupies a central role in health care delivery, with this issue of JAMA a new series is launched: Diagnostic Test Interpretation. This new series is in a quiz format starting with a patient’s clinical presentation and test result(s). The reader is asked how to best interpret a diagnostic test. The main thrust of the article is to explain how the test is interpreted along with a discussion of what the test measures, its limitations, and if there are better testing strategies for the patient’s clinical problem. Because all clinicians should be concerned about the cost of medical care, Medicare reimbursement rates for the test will be provided.

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