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May 26, 1978

Routine Admission Testing-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of Alabama in Birmingham Birmingham

JAMA. 1978;239(21):2240. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280480031007

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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