[Point-of-care-testing--the intensive care laboratory]

Anaesthesist. 1999 Jan;48(1):3-8. doi: 10.1007/s001010050661.
[Article in German]


After successful centralization of laboratory analyses since more than 30 years, advances in biosensors, microprocessors, measurement of undiluted whole blood and miniaturization of laboratory analyzers are leading nowadays more and more to a re-decentralization in the laboratory medicine. Point-of-care-testing (POCT), which is defined as any laboratory test performed outside central or decentralized laboratories, is becoming more and more popular. The theoretical advantages of POCT are faster turn-around-times (TAT), more rapid medical decisions, avoidance of sample identification and sample transport problems and the need of only small specimen volumes. These advantages are frequently mentioned, but are not associated with a clear clinical benefit. The disadvantages of POCT such as incorrect handling and/or maintenance of the analyzers by nontrained clinical staff, inadequate or even absent calibrations and/or quality controls, lack of cost-effectiveness because of an increased number of analyzers and more expensive reagents, insufficient documentation and difficult comparability of the obtained POCT-results with routine laboratory results, are strongly evident. According to the authors' opinion the decision for the establishing of POCT has only to be made in a close co-operation between physicians and laboratorians in order to vouch for necessity and high quality of the analyses. Taking the local situation into consideration (24-h-central laboratory, etc.) the spectrum of parameters measured by means of POCT should be rigorously restricted to the vital functions. Such analytes should be: hemoglobin or hematocrit, activated whole blood clotting time, blood gases, sodium, potassium, ionized calcium, glucose, creatinine, ammonia and lactate.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / trends*
  • Critical Care / trends*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems / trends*