During a period of evaluation of an automated clinical analyzer (AutoChemist), a panel of 20 biochemical tests was performed for patients undergoing a multiphasic health checkup. For a representative sample of the patients, the results of only eight previously used tests were reported to their physicians. Within three to four months of follow-up, new diagnoses, evidence for existing diagnoses, additional tests, additional follow-up visits, phone calls, referrals, therapeutic advice, and prescriptions occurred about 1½ to 2 times more frequently following abnormalities on the 20-test report than on the 8-test report. Normal results on related tests did not generally reduce the follow-up of abnormalities of the original tests. The value of the increase in diagnoses and therapy generated by the additional tests as compared to the associated costs has yet to be determined.
Friedman GD, Goldberg M, Ahuja JN, Siegelaub A, Bassis ML, Collen MI. Biochemical Screening Tests: Effect of Panel Size on Medical Care. Arch Intern Med. 1972;129(1):91–97. doi:10.1001/archinte.1972.00320010095012
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