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It is appropriate and feasible to interpret some laboratory tests as positive or negative. A serologic test for syphilis and a sickel cell preparation would classify as tests in this category. Both of these tests measure things that are not normally found in a patient's blood.
For physiological substances, such as electrolytes or serum enzymes, the terms "false-positive" or "false-negative" are inappropriate. Nearly all of the most frequently ordered chemistry and hematology tests fall into this latter category.
These tests usually do not dectect or diagnose a specific disease. Rather, these tests are used to detect or document problems or monitor treatments. In a hospital population, in contrast to multiphasic outpatient screening, these tests are used primarily as therapeutic monitors. A byproduct of these tests is their value in dectecting or documenting clinically unsuspected problems.
Interpretation of results that lie outside the technical and physiological range is influenced
Cole GW. Routine Admission Testing-Reply. JAMA. 1978;239(21):2240. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280480031007
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