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June 1974

Automated "Chemistries": A Multiphasic Misadventure

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC

Arch Intern Med. 1974;133(6):1068-1069. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320180186016

The nature of clinical chemistry services provided by hospital laboratories has changed drastically in the last five to ten years. Physicians primarily concerned with patient care have been the unwitting recipients of this change, and many of us are still bewildered at what the marvels of multiphasic screenings have wrought.

The logic of the initial step was clear—if individual chemical determinations could be automated, then mass production would replace expensive technicians. The next major development, aided and encouraged by bioengineering firms, was to string sets of automated chemical tests together. Again, the justification was based on cost factors—with the clear implication that more tests could be offered to the patient for lesser cost and that more tests should help the physician. If 12 automated chemistry tests could be done for the price of two or three single tests, then the conclusion should be obvious. But it isn't!

Without a detailed