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Clin Chem. 1999 May;45(5):739-45.

Genetic testing and the clinical laboratory improvement amendments of 1988: present and future.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Laboratories, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


CLIA '88 superseded CLIA '67. CLIA '88 set standards designed to improve quality and expanded federal oversight to virtually all clinical laboratories in the United States. Presumably because genetics testing was then in its infancy, CLIA '88 did not devote a special section to genetics testing. Biochemical and immunochemical tests used to evaluate inborn errors of metabolism and other genetic entities were categorized as analytes in the Clinical Chemistry section, and DNA probes used primarily in infectious disease were included in Microbiology. The legal, social, economic, and ethical implications of genetic testing and the rapid commercialization of these tests led to recommendations that genetic testing be defined as a laboratory specialty with a subsection in CLIA. The advisory committee created under CLIA was assigned to review these recommendations. The committee agreed that genetics testing was sufficiently different from other areas already included in CLIA to warrant a separate section. Two definitions were adopted. The more clear-cut one is for molecular genetic and cytogenic tests. This includes the analysis of human DNA/RNA in evaluating genetic diseases. The second definition is not as clear-cut and is for the analysis of proteins and metabolites used predominantly to detect inborn errors of metabolism. Many of these analytes already are categorized according to their uses for other purposes. The recommendations for genetic testing include detailed and specific proposals concerning personnel, confidentiality and informed consent, quality control, contamination, proficiency testing, validation of tests, special reporting, retention of records, and reuse of tested specimens.

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