Bringing the clinical laboratory into the strategy to advance diagnostic excellence

Diagnosis (Berl). 2021 Jan 6;8(3):281-294. doi: 10.1515/dx-2020-0119. Print 2021 Aug 26.


Objectives: Clinical laboratory testing provides essential data for making medical diagnoses. Generating accurate and timely test results clearly communicated to the treating clinician, and ultimately the patient, is a critical component that supports diagnostic excellence. On the other hand, failure to achieve this can lead to diagnostic errors that manifest in missed, delayed and wrong diagnoses.

Content: Innovations that support diagnostic excellence address: 1) test utilization, 2) leveraging clinical and laboratory data, 3) promoting the use of credible information resources, 4) enhancing communication among laboratory professionals, health care providers and the patient, and 5) advancing the use of diagnostic management teams. Integrating evidence-based laboratory and patient-care quality management approaches may provide a strategy to support diagnostic excellence. Professional societies, government agencies, and healthcare systems are actively engaged in efforts to advance diagnostic excellence. Leveraging clinical laboratory capabilities within a healthcare system can measurably improve the diagnostic process and reduce diagnostic errors.

Summary: An expanded quality management approach that builds on existing processes and measures can promote diagnostic excellence and provide a pathway to transition innovative concepts to practice.

Outlook: There are increasing opportunities for clinical laboratory professionals and organizations to be part of a strategy to improve diagnoses.

Keywords: diagnostic error; diagnostic excellence; laboratory practice; quality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Laboratory Services*
  • Communication
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Laboratories*