Antiquated tests within the clinical pathology laboratory

Am J Manag Care. 2010 Sep;16(9):e220-7.


Objective: To provide evidence supporting the discontinuation of laboratory tests that do not have clinical utility today.

Study design: We selected 10 representative tests considered antiquated by most experts in the clinical laboratory medicine field: creatine kinase-MB, myoglobin, serum folate and red blood cell folate, amylase, lecithin/sphingomyelin ratio, qualitative serum human chorionic gonadotropin, prostatic acid phosphatase, bleeding time, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

Methods: Published literature was reviewed to provide evidence of the poor performance and/or limited clinical utility of these tests. When available, subscriptions to the Proficiency Testing Program of the College of American Pathologists were tracked from 1993 to 2008 as supporting evidence. Finally, when appropriate, alternative testing was suggested.

Results: The data show clearly that there is a national trend toward reduction or elimination of these 10 tests.

Conclusion: Together with their clinical colleagues, clinical laboratorians should review their menu of tests and consider removing tests that do not provide clinical benefit. In most cases, alternative tests are already in clinical use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine* / trends
  • Humans
  • Laboratories*
  • Pathology, Clinical*