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J Clin Pathol. 2012 Dec;65(12):1141-5. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2012-200837. Epub 2012 Aug 10.

Electronic chemical pathology consultation service and dried blood spot metabolic screening in hospital patients.

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Chemical Pathology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Hong Kong SAR, China.



Inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) are an unpopular and difficult subject and most clinicians are unfamiliar with them. Although chemical pathologists have a long-standing practice in advising test strategy and result interpretation especially from primary care, such consultations are usually informal, unstructured and those related to IEM are infrequently requested. This study aims to provide a formal electronic consultation service and to apply tandem mass spectrometry-based dried blood spot metabolic screening (DBSM) as a rapid first-line test for patients suspected of IEM.


DBSM and a chemical pathology consultation were ordered through the hospital computer terminals. DBSM detected 29 metabolic disorders. The clinical data and metabolic results for the 12-month period were reviewed.


There were 279 consultations of which 209 were initiated by paediatricians and 70 by adult physicians. The main reasons for consultation were developmental delay, neurological abnormalities, unexplained biochemical abnormalities and monitoring of patients with IEM. There were 158 DBSM requests. One positive case of isovaleric acidaemia was detected.


All high-risk paediatric patients should have a DBSM and a timely electronic chemical pathology consultation as a rapid and cost-effective first-line screening. Provision of a visible, accessible and helpful consultation service enables professional reimbursement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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