Enhanced clinical consulting--moving toward the core competencies of laboratory professionals

Clin Chim Acta. 2002 May 21;319(2):117-25. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(02)00032-3.

Abstract

The large menu of laboratory assays available today makes it increasingly difficult for the non-specialist to order all necessary tests, avoid medical errors, and still contain cost. Curbside consultations, "intelligent" laboratory information systems, and medical information from the Internet cannot fully fill the need for expert advice on test selection and interpretation of laboratory results. In this communication, we show the need for a more active role for laboratory physicians to select and interpret tests, demonstrate that existing attempts to deal with this issue are insufficient, and describe the model system which we have instituted at our institution. We combine reflexive testing algorithms with narrative interpretations provided by medical laboratory professionals and thereby enable physicians to obtain relevant laboratory results and to arrive at a definitive diagnosis without having to order individual tests. In our experience, such an arrangement can significantly improve the quality of care and reduce the cost per case by decreasing the time to diagnosis, the number of tests ordered, and the number of patient visits. In addition, interpretations provide a new source of professional revenue for the expert laboratory physician. This leads to a new role for laboratory professionals, in which their expertise in the selection and interpretation of laboratory tests is fully utilized.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Chemistry, Clinical / education
  • Chemistry, Clinical / standards*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / economics
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / standards*
  • Diagnostic Errors / standards
  • Diagnostic Errors / trends
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Laboratories, Hospital / standards*
  • Medical Laboratory Personnel / education
  • Medical Laboratory Personnel / standards*
  • Physicians / standards
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / economics
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / standards
  • Referral and Consultation / standards
  • Referral and Consultation / trends