The clinical importance of laboratory reasoning

Clin Chim Acta. 1999 Feb;280(1-2):35-45. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(98)00196-x.


The radical changes made in the delivery of modern health care have serious implications for laboratory services, because reasoning in laboratory medicine should follow a clinical rather than a technological logic. Appropriate test requesting and interpretation coupled with a patient-oriented vision improve the outcomes for patients, and so ensure the best cost containment strategy. The fact that analytical operations are standardized and quality controlled, may lead to a greater recognition of the importance of pre- and post-analytical issues. Particularly critical aspects are the formulation of the clinical question and the interpretation of laboratory results. Laboratory-clinic communication is fundamental in achieving and maintaining total quality in laboratory services. Effective consultancy stands or falls with the knowledge and experience of laboratorians, as well as continuous education is required to maintain the best utilization of laboratory information in clinical decision-making. As clinical audit is an important tool for reviewing and improving the quality of the service in clinical laboratories, it should make up an important part of programs for accreditation and quality improvement. If a patient-centered vision predominates, the clinical laboratory will be linked to both physicians and patients, making it more tangible to the latter.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Control
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Laboratories* / economics
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Problem Solving*
  • Referral and Consultation