Quality and timeliness in medical laboratory testing

Schimke, Ingolf
March 2009
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Mar2009, Vol. 393 Issue 5, p1499
Academic Journal
In terms of testing, modern laboratory medicine can be divided into centralized testing in central laboratories and point-of-care testing (POCT). Centralized laboratory medicine offers high-quality results, as guaranteed by the use of quality management programs and the excellence of the staff. POCT is performed by clinical staff, and so such testing has moved back closer to the patient. POCT has the advantage of shortening the turnaround time, which potentially benefits the patient. However, the clinical laboratory testing expertise of clinical staff is limited. Consequently, when deciding which components of laboratory testing must be conducted in central laboratories and which components as POCT (in relation to quality and timeliness), it will be medical necessity, medical utility, technological capabilities and costs that will have to be ascertained. Provided adequate quality can be guaranteed, POCT is preferable, considering its timeliness, when testing vital parameters. It is also preferred when the central laboratory cannot guarantee the delivery of results of short turn-around-time (STAT) markers within 60 or (even better) 30 min. POCT should not replace centralized medical laboratory testing in general, but it should be used in cases where positive effects on patient care have been clearly demonstrated.


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