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To the Editor:—
In the Feb. 7 issue of The Journal, page 653, the reviewer of the book "Electrolyte Changes in Surgery" compliments the authors on their statement "that the most common electrolyte abnormality encountered in clinical medicine is the 'laboratory error.' " Excellent methods are now available for maintaining quality control in clinical laboratories.As a clinical pathologist, I have reviewed more than 2,000 complete electrolyte studies ( determination of pH; carbon dioxide content; concentration of sodium, potassium, chlorides, and total proteins; and the hematocrit reading) during the past two and one-half years. This review showed that the most common electrolyte abnormality encountered in our clinical practice was that due to patient disease. The second most common electrolyte abnormality was that due to therapeutic excess or neglect.With proper use of control serum samples, the probability of "laboratory error" in any electrolyte determination can be statistically quantitated and kept below a
Gambino SR. "LABORATORY ERROR". JAMA. 1959;169(17):2066. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03000340098028
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